Leading the Way – Women in Jazz

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From the scores arranged by Melba Liston, to the important role Mary Lou Williams played in jazz instrumentation, to the well-known enchanting voice of Billie Holiday, women have long contributed to the dynamic and extensive field of jazz.

With an added focus on women in jazz at this year’s Summer Fest, you’ll find a wealth of vibrant female voices in jazz throughout downtown San Jose this weekend, voices blazing trails and molding what it means to be a jazz artist. Hailing from all corners of the world, these women infuse elements of other genres while paying homage to jazz traditions.

Chihiro Yamanaka, a jazz pianist and composer from Japan, performs Saturday afternoon on the Umpqua Bank Stage. As a fresh addition to the illustrious Blue Note label, fans and music critics alike have been eager to dive into her most recent album, Somethin’ Blue.

By way of Austria, Marina Zettl of Marina & The Kats will bring what has been referred to as the “smallest big band on the planet.” Performing on Saturday, the group’s music hearkens back to a time of Lindy-Hop dancing, scat singing and swinging melodies that will put a flicker in any listener’s eyes. Bria Skonberg, an award-winning trumpeter, vocalist and composer from Canada performing on Sunday, has recently started on a venture to create music rooted in New Orleans jazz and blues, world percussion, soul and cabaret. The Wall Street Journal said she’s “poised to be one of the most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation.”

Three-time Grammy Award-winning Terri Lyne Carrington, one of Summer Fest’s marquee acts, will take the stage Saturday night to share work from The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul. The album is a celebrated sequel to the esteemed composer’s The Mosaic Project. Both projects feature an all-star line up of female collaborations that includes Cassandra Wilson, Esperanza Spalding, Lalah Hathaway, Natalie Cole and Chaka Khan. Such a bevy of talent will be featured in her Summer Fest set as she brings along Ledisi, Oleta Adams, and Jaguar Wright to join her.

As Carrington has expressed, there has been a true emergence of so many great female artists. Certainly, it’s time to highlight who these women are, what they contribute to music and present their work to inspire possible future musicians.

For a full run down of acts at this year’s Summer Fest, visit our line-up page, found here. Click here to purchase your Summer Fest tickets.