Sebben che siamo donne
Foto Fran Kaufman
L'esperienza della International Women in Jazz di New York

Sheila Anderson and Lil Phillips: jazz entries are those that will be awarded on April 13 in the seventh edition of the International Women in Jazz Festival. Speaker of the famous radio WBGO the first and second singer, the two women will be the protagonists of one of the flagship events of International Women in Jazz (IWJ), a non-profit organization that focuses attention on women who do jazz. IWJ offers to women of all ages, of every origin, with languages and different skills, the opportunity to gather to play, listen, share and experience music.

«Among us there are singers, instrumentalists, composers, dancers, scholars, recording industry professionals. But there is also some men, because they understood that women there is always something to learn. " Talking is Jacqueline Lennon, President of IWJ by October 2011 and divided between music and tv, where is the protagonist of Jackie & Company ".

The Organization was founded on the backburner in 1995, at the close of a conference dedicated to the other half of the jazz. Among the guests, as well as artists and passionate, there were also Lorraine Gordon (wife of Max Gordon and premiered a few days ago with the NEA Jazz Masters Award for 2013 the contribution with the management of the Village Vanguard) and Leslie Gourse, a music critic and author of numerous books. The attention and participation had been so strong as to make necessary a concrete gesture. And the Presidency was entrusted to Cobi Narita, which has remained at the helm of the organization until recently.
«We organize concerts, seminars and workshops-tells the President-we try to support and give support and strength to women in jazz, to recognize their work and pay tribute to the great artiste. It is a commitment that goes on for years to preserve the legacy that we have left. At the beginning the IWJ was at the forefront in this area: there was almost no organization dealing to give support to jazziste, make them aware of their talent, drive them through career». Easy to say, but how do you actually do something useful? ' In the case of workshops-explains-we call the best professionals to show to singers and instrumentalists like you hold a concert, how do you make a contract and what you should expect when you go to play in a jazz club or a local hard drive. Explain them the first things to do when searching and evenings as enforcing the agreements with local operators. Often women were cut off from all this. Or rather: there was who took advantage. Now it seems that things are changing. There is more democracy in the air».

The festival is an opportunity to deliver the awards to women who have made jazz their existence: last year, among others, was awarded even Sheila Jordan. And, inevitably, even this evening closes with a jam session where the watchword is freedom: «May participate jazziste navigate or beginners, it makes no difference. For us it is not a problem if you are playing their music, if you read by the score or try new songs: this is the right place. There are no limits or boundaries here». In order to encourage those who are trying to make their way, the IWJ has created the program "Youth in Action", which is open to young jazziste of all nationalities under 17 years. The winners will perform during the evening of the festival.

To give a quick look to the Advisory Committee of IWJ, peep the names of Dee Dee Bridgewater, critic Nat Hentoff, the pianist Marian McPartland. Because in order to grow and help people grow need to confront those with a background different from their own. Even on the other side of the Ocean: in Italy, for example, IWJ collaborates with Fondazione Adkins Chiti-Women in music. «We do network, interact, we become members of other organizations-adds Jacqueline Lennon-just go ahead and learn things that we don't know yet. Let's take them elsewhere and others do the same coming here, because nobody is perfect: we are all learning something. And we learn from each other».

(Article published in "giornale della musica" 299, January 2013)

Silvana Pasha


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