In June of 2003, I was asked to perform in an ensemble made up
of members of the New York based not-for-profit organization International
Women in Jazz. This ensemble was featured in a concert entitled
It's a Woman Thing as a part of the 2003 New York
JVC Jazz Festival. Shortly after this performance, Patricia
Adkins Chiti, President of Fondazione Adkins Chiti: Donne
in Musica (Women in Jazz), invited a smaller version of this
ensemble to perform on the concert series ControCanto: Donne
in Jazz in Frascati, Italy in December of that same year.
On the plane ride home from the ensemble’s performance in
Italy, an idea for a project came to me. Along with being humbled
by the great work that Patricia Adkins Chiti was doing for women
composers with Donne in Musica, I began to think about
how many remarkable women jazz musicians there are who have written
music that is not performed very often. When I arrived back in
New York, I immediately started searching for compositions that
I could add to my own ensemble’s repertoire. In early 2004,
a call for proposals came from the Italian based foundation to
the members of the International Women in Jazz. I eagerly
submitted my proposal to Donne in Musica and was fortunate to
be selected to perform on the 2004 ControCanto: Donne in Jazz
concert series with my own quartet (Wei-Sheng Lin – bass,
Seiji Ochiai – drums, Stan Chovnick – soprano sax).
The six jazz musicians whose music is featured on this recording
are women that I truly admire not only for their musical talents
but also for their tenacity to survive and thrive in the world
of jazz. I feel honored to have my own compositions on the same
recording with the works of these great jazz musicians who happen
to be women.
The Journey (Linda Presgrave)
The Journey symbolizes a trip along the path of life
where with each step there is a new discovery.
Willow Weep for Me (Ann
Ronell – Composer, Singer/Tin Pan Alley Composer) Although
Ann Ronell was known as a composer of operas and film music, she
is probably best known for this great jazz standard.
(Shirley Scott – Composer, Hammond Organ/Hard Bop, Soul
Jazz) Shirley Scott is often labeled “Queen of the Organ”
and was best known for her “spirited” performances
and “aggressive” style blending bluesy melodies with
(Linda Presgrave) This almost meditational work was influenced
by a love and an interest of mine in the Native American Indian
culture. Kokopelli, a familiar icon, is often known as the hunchback
flute player, as a wandering minstrel with a sack of songs on
his back trading new songs for old, as a harbinger of fertility
and as a god of the harvest.
Koolbonga (Mary Lou Williams
– Arranger, Composer, Piano/Stride, Post Bop, Swing, Bop)
For many years Mary Lou Williams was often referred to as jazz’s
greatest female musician. Koolbonga, from her London
Sessions album, incorporates a bluesy style with more modern
tonality that is so representative of Mary Lou’s music.
Billy (Melba Liston
– Arranger, Composer, Trombone/Hard Bop, Bop) There are
few women jazz instrumentalists, composers, or arrangers who have
a list of credentials as impressive as Melba Liston’s. For
many years she was the only woman in America to play trombone
seriously and on par with male musicians. Billy is a
beautiful touching ballad that someday will hopefully find its
way into the standard jazz repertoire.
West End Samba (Linda
Presgrave) This latin flavored jazz tune happens to be my first
jazz composition and was written just in time for a gig in St.
Louis at West End Wines formerly owned by my friend Melanie
Zagreb This (Melba Liston)
Zagreb This has a catchy title utilizing a “play on
words” that is so typical of titles in the jazz idiom. The
harmony and tonality of the “A” section is reflective
of the Croatian area of Zagreb.
That Special Time of Year (Linda
Presgrave) This is my contribution to the pool of holiday seasonal
music: a jazz ballad in ¾ time portraying the warm and
sentimental feeling that the holiday season brings no matter what
traditions are followed.
(Linda Presgrave) There is a great little “southern cuisine”
restaurant located in Pelham, New York named “Yvonne’s”
that makes the best cornbread ever. This tune is a blues tribute
to that culinary delight.
In the Days of Our Love
(Marian McPartland – Composer, Piano/Post Bop, Swing, Bop)
Although a well respected pianist for decades with more than 100
recordings as a leader, Marian McPartland is probably best known
for her radio program “Piano Jazz.” In the Days
was originally entitled Afterglow but later Peggy Lee
added lyrics and supplied the new title. This tune represents
Marian’s signature style of writing and of playing beautiful
Ptah, the El Daoud (Alice
Coltrane – Composer, Harp Piano, Organ/Avant-Garde Jazz,
Free Jazz) Alice Coltrane came into prominence after she met John
Coltrane in the mid-sixties. Her personal spiritual quest is evidenced
strongly in her music. Of the title, Ptah, the El Daoud,
Alice says: “Ptah is the name of an Egyptian god –
in fact, one of the highest aspects of God, ‘The Beloved.’
My meaning here was to express and bring out a feeling of purification.
Sometimes on earth we don’t have to wait for death to go
through a sort of purging, a purification. That march you hear
is a march on to purgatory, rather than a series of changes a
person might go through.”
I would like to dedicate this CD to the following three people
who have passed away but continue to inspire me in very different
ways. The first and foremost is my wonderful Mother, Willine Brophy,
who died in March of 2003. Her encouragement, support, understanding
and love continue to live in my heart. The second is Charles Payne,
the smilin’ and swingin’ drummer of my group in St.
Louis, who believed in me and encouraged me right from the beginning.
The third is the great tenor player and supreme gentleman, John
Stubblefield, who was featured on my first CD, In Your Eyes.