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Where Are the Female Jazz Critics?

Women jazz musicians are ubiquitous today, but jazz journalism lacks a feminine voice

"Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music"
Ellen Willis

If you’re familiar with the Irving Berlin chestnut “I Got Lost in His Arms,” you probably know it from the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Maybe you’ve heard it mangled by a high-school glee club or finessed by someone like Julie London. Or, esteemed JazzTimes reader, perhaps you’ve heard the version evenly crooned by Gretchen Parlato on Terri Lyne Carrington’s new album, The Mosaic Project (Concord Jazz), in a style Berlin could never have envisioned. Like much of the album, it’s terse and self-assured; like the album’s entirety, it’s the product of an all-female personnel.

I got to thinking about The Mosaic Project recently, and about a quote from Carrington, the suave postbop drummer, in its press bio. “If I had tried to do something like this in the past-like when I started playing 25 years ago-I might have felt limited by the pool of available musicians,” she said. “But now there are so many talented women whom I’ve been playing with anyway-not just because they’re women but because I love the way they play.” Right on, I thought. If only the same were true for jazz criticism.

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