Though there are many female jazz vocalists, Monika Herzig said she has noticed only a small number of female jazz instrumentalists have been recognized as jazz musicians in her time.
This realization contributed to her motivation to bring back A Jazz Celebration of Women’s History Month, a concert series focusing on women jazz musicians. This year’s series concludes Thursday with its Bloomington show at Bear’s Place.
“I started this maybe six or seven years ago with the celebration of Women’s History Month, and it’s amazing to see how many wonderful local and regional female instrumentalists there are and how unfortunate it is that they aren’t really known at all,” Herzig said.
Herzig, the coordinator of A Jazz Celebration of Women’s History Month, works as a professor at the School of Public Health at IU, where she teaches courses focused on arts management.
She and the concert series’ eight other jazz instrumentalists have traveled to Evansville, Indiana, Columbus, Indiana, and Indianapolis during the series.
The ensemble for the celebration consists of Herzig on piano, two vocalists, a trumpeter, a clarinetist, a violinist, a saxophonist, a bassist and a drummer — all female instrumentalists.
Herzig said the audience can expect to hear everything from Carla Bley, Marian McPartland and Carole King’s “A Natural Woman” to original compositions by Herzig and the ensemble’s violinist, Carolyn Dutton.
Jessica Henry, the trumpet player in the concert series, listed off blues, Latin jazz and “just straight ahead plain jazz” as a few of the types of music the ensemble performs.
“It’s really nice that we play a variety of music that appeals to everybody’s taste,” Henry said.
Herzig said she has seen changes in the representation of women in the jazz community since the concert series returned.
“When I started this in the early 2000s, we always needed a guy bass player or drummer because we never could find one (who was a woman),” Herzig said. “The cool thing is that now I don’t have any trouble finding a bass player or drummer. There are so many changes happening already.”
Henry said she is also excited about the opportunity the concert series brings.
“It’s really great that we get to kind of team up a bit and hopefully inspire younger women, too, to get involved with jazz in the future,” Henry said. “I hope they leave inspired and I hope they loved what they heard.”