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Alexa Tarantino Leads Charge for a More Inclusive Jazz Scene

The alto saxophonist and her ensemble, Lioness celebrates female jazz artistry

Alexa Tarantino
Alexa Tarantino (photo by: Anna Yatskevich)

On their debut album, Pride & Joy (Posi-Tone), the all-female sextet Lioness makes a potent jazz statement while celebrating female jazz artistry past and present. The ensemble features six acclaimed musicians—alto saxophonist Alexa Tarantino, tenor saxophonist Jenny Hill, baritone saxophonist Lauren Sevian, guitarist Amanda Monaco, organist Akiko Tsuruga, and drummer Allison Miller—and all the tracks were composed by women (okay, there’s one man with a composer credit, but he’s a co-composer). Fittingly, Pride & Joy was released on International Women’s Day, March 8.

“Camaraderie is really the biggest thing,” Tarantino tells me in the lobby of a hotel on New York’s Upper West Side. The young altoist plays with another distinguished all-female ensemble, the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, and she likens the vibe of the Lioness sessions to that of DIVA’s recent shows with tap dancer Maurice Hines.

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Lucy Tauss

Lucy Tauss is a New York City-based music journalist and longtime JazzTimes contributor. She is also a radio and audio producer/writer/editor/journalist who covers news, entertainment and everything in between.