While many jazz figures have become household names – Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, and more – many others remain less recognized and under-appreciated. Have you heard Melba Liston, Dorothy Ashby, Emily Remler, or Linda Oh? If you haven’t yet discovered these incredible musicians, read on to find some starting points to expand your listening.
If you love the Swing era sounds of bands like Fletcher Henderson and Glenn Miller, check out Valaida Snow. A talented multi-instrumentalist, Snow specialized in the trumpet, earning the moniker “Little Louis” after Louis Armstrong, and made a big splash with her signature tune, “Hi-Hat, Trumpet, and Rhythm.” If the classic Hard Bop of the 1950s and ‘60s is your thing, Dorothy Ashby is a must-listen. A native of Detroit and alum of the storied Cass Technical High School, Ashby ushered in the harp as a viable jazz instrument, recording several albums for Prestige, Blue Note, and Cadet records over a thirty-year career, including Hip Harp and Soft Winds. For those who dig contemporary sounds, dive into the discography of Geri Allen. A pianist of incredible range and depth, Allen delivers both considerable power and great tenderness on the keys, and was a major influence on some of today’s most notable artists, like Jason Moran, Vijay Iyer, and Craig Taborn. Favorite records include Twenty One and The Life of a Song, both phenomenal trio outings. If you’re always on the lookout for the latest trend-setters, look no further than Esperanza Spalding. Not only an extraordinary bassist and vocalist, but a wildly creative and genre-bending composer and arranger, exploring the intersections of jazz, classical chamber music, soul, and more. Her 2012 album Radio Society is a great entry point.
We’re listening to these and many other great ladies of jazz all month long on Jazz 93.5. We celebrate the achievements and contributions of women in March and throughout the year on programs like Great Ladies of Jazz (Tuesdays, 2:00 pm), Off the Record (Sundays, 5:00 pm), New Generations of Jazz (Sundays, 1:00¬-3:00 pm), and Voices of Jazz (Sundays, 7:00-9:00 pm).