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A new year for women in jazz

Scott Haas
A new year for women in jazz
Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington PHOTO: JOHN WATSON

Changes in 2021 are happening in the world of jazz, with women leading the way: more inclusion of new sounds and people, greater access for audiences (thanks to virtual offerings) and increased social activism. One leader is drummer and composer Terri Lyne Carrington, born and raised in Medford, Massachusetts. You can hear Carrington perform at the online Jazz Education Network Experience, JENX 2021 this January.

One of only four NEA (National Endowment of the Arts) 2021 Jazz Masters (named in October 2020), Carrington also helped establish the Jazz and Gender Studies Institute in 2018 at Berklee College of Music, where Aja Burrell Wood is managing director.

Vocalist and composer Jessica Boykin-Settles COURTESY PHOTO

Vocalist and composer Jessica Boykin-Settles COURTESY PHOTO

JENX 2021 is a mix of lectures and performances that runs January 6-9, with registration possible up until the starting date. Connect from anywhere at any age with any device to attend the lectures and performances. 

Along with Carrington, among JENX 2021’s highlights featuring women in jazz, you’ll find “From Jim Crow to Black Lives Matter: Vocal Jazz Protest Music” on Jan. 6, presented by Jessica Boykin-Settles; “Sisters in Jazz,” on Jan. 7, presented by Ingrid Jensen; “Saxophone Masterclass with Tia Fuller” on Jan. 7; Artemis on Jan. 7; and Carrington on Jan. 9.

Artemis is an all-female band with members from the United States, Canada, France, Israel, Chile and Japan, and features the remarkable singer Cécile McLorin Salvant. Salvant is a 2020 MacArthur “Genius grant” winner.



Jesse Nolan, JEN’s membership and marketing director, told the Banner, “Part of our focus as an organization is on gender and diversity. We’re absolutely presenting not just women in groups, but those who are cutting-edge in jazz.”

From outside of the United States, you’ll find the London-based jazz saxophone player and composer Nubya Garcia. Garcia released her first CD, “Source,” in August. She can also be heard on NTS radio, broadcast out of England, “on an hour-long musical journey” one Wednesday each month. It’s easy to tune in at

Saxophonist Tia Fuller PHOTO: JERRIS MADISON

Saxophonist Tia Fuller PHOTO: JERRIS MADISON

The vocalists and instrumentalists, national and international, are implicitly fostered by ideas and activities being generated at Berklee’s Jazz and Gender Studies Institute.

“As musicians, being a woman is part of our identity, just as being a man is part of a male musician’s identity,” Carrington told the Banner.

While we wait to rejoin the world and enjoy lectures and performances in person again, we can bring the world into our homes virtually. Being that it’s winter, that is kind of cozy; and with the work of artists like Carrington, Salvant and Garcia, among many others at virtual conferences, shows and workshops, we are witnessing structural and inclusive changes in the world of jazz.

Special discount

For Banner readers, Nolan has created a special discount code for JENX 2021 that gives readers $10 off any conference registration. Regular non-discounted prices are $75 for adults and $25 for students. Simply enter the code “banner” into the coupon code box at checkout.

All conference attendees must be members of the Jazz Education Network. Annual memberships range from free (for youth 18 and under) to $8/month.