Thursday, June 4, 2009

The 14th Annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival

Today’s show is going to focus on the women who performed in this year’s Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival which took place May 14-16 at the Kennedy Center. I was fortunate to attend all three nights! My goal for 2010 is to convince everyone I know to go to this incredible festival. I was so impressed by each of the performers, their creativity and innovation, their mastery of their instruments, the collaboration with the other artists performing with them. Each deserved and got a standing ovation!

Mary Lou Williams was one of the founders of jazz. In reading her biography, I see her spirit in the performers of this year’s program. Their creations lead the groups of musicians with whom they perform; they are the leaders. According to her biographer, Tammy Kernodle, Mary Lou Williams’ home was one of three places that gave birth to the modern jazz movement.

Today I will be playing music from all of the performers of this year’s festival and talking to four of them!

First, we’ll talk to Hailey Niswanger, 19 year old saxophonist, who is the winner of the 2008 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Saxophone Competition. Currently studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Hailey hails from Portland, Oregon, and has an impressive list of accomplishments. For more information, visit her website at

Hailey performs a solo on this video of the 2008 Jazz Band of America (the only woman in the band) at about 3:50.

Next, we’ll chat with Anne Drummond. Anne is fluent in not only the flute, but also the keyboards, and started her set in the performance at the piano. She is a teacher, composer and performer! We heard several of her compositions in the festival. Her first CD, Like Water, is due to come out in September of this year. You can sample her music on her website at We'll be hearing a world premiere of her new music today!

I’m honored to have a chance to talk to Carmen Lundy today! “A true original in the world of jazz singing and composition,” according to the program notes. Composer, performer and teacher, she exemplifies the spirit of Mary Lou Williams. Her website is

We heard a version of this song (included the band) during the festival.

Finally, I’ll be talking to Janis Siegel of Manhattan Transfer! Ms. Siegel is a nine-time Grammy winner. Born in Brooklyn, she has not only been part of a thirty-five year collaboration with the other members of Manhattan Transfer, but has also had a vibrant solo career. Her contributions to jazz history are voluminous and are documented at her website,

Here is a clip from herstory!

Today’s playlist (I hope to play them all!):

  • Mary's Idea Mary Lou Williams Mary Lou Williams Story
  • Four In One Hailey Niswanger Confeddie
  • Yes or No Hailey Niswanger Confeddie
  • Afoxamba Anne Drummond
  • RoadSong Anne Drummond
  • All of Me (feat. Carmen Bradford) Sherrie Maricle & The Diva Jazz Orchestra Live From Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola: Sherrie Maricle & The DIVA Jazz Orchestra (feat. Carmen Bradford) [Live]
  • Better Days Carmen Lundy Jazz and the New Songbook: Live At the Madrid (Live, Bonus Tracks)
  • In Love Again Carmen Lundy Jazz and the New Songbook: Live At the Madrid (Live, Bonus Tracks)
  • Afro Blue Dee Dee Bridgewater Red Earth - A Malian Journey
  • Love Janis Siegel A Thousand Beautiful Things
  • Suitcase Song Janis Siegel A Thousand Beautiful Things
  • Washington Square Park Anat Cohen Notes from the Village
  • Cuerpo y Alma (Body & Soul) Esperanza Spalding Esperanza
  • Beandip Annette A. Aguilar & StringBeans No Cheap Dates
  • Sky Blue Maria Schneider Sky Blue


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