It is rare to see many female musicians on the Jazz Fables concert series setlist, but on Thursday night listeners will have the opportunity to hear eight women perform.
Jazz pianist and IU faculty member Monika Herzig and her all-female jazz project “The Whole World in Her Hands” will take the stage at 5:30 p.m. to play songs from both their latest and upcoming albums as a part of the concert series.
The concert will act as a CD release for the project’s new album, which Herzig said is not only unique in that it includes only women, but that it showcases talent from women of many different backgrounds.
“We called the album, ‘The Whole World in Her Hands’ because it’s a mix of women that have a lot of various backgrounds from different countries and cultures,” she said. “Bringing them to Bloomington, that’s going to be a huge deal, so I’m hoping people will take advantage of that.”
Director and founder of the Jazz Fables Concert series David Miller said Herzig began performing with all-female jazz groups at a local and regional level for Women’s History Month. He said Herzig is not only interested in performing her own music, but showcasing the work of other female jazz instrumentalists as well.
“She really drew together some of the really outstanding women jazz artists in the world and got an actual tour together,” he said. “It’s very gratifying to see that from those beginnings many years ago, this has become not only a CD project but a tour of these outstanding women jazz musicians.”
Herzig said the reason there are so few female jazz musicians is due to a lack of role models. She said many girls quit playing jazz music during middle and high school.
“When you get to college, they pretty much disappear because you don’t see any faculty and you don’t see any role models,” she said. “So it’s just hard to make a decision to do that, and so one of the goals of the project is to create those role models.”
Miller said the project helps bring attention to the fact that women can sometimes be limited in their roles as jazz musicians.
“I think one of the most obvious things she talks about with this album is that in the history of jazz, often times women have been limited to being vocalists or pianists or keyboarders,” he said. “This album has no vocals whatsoever — it’s all instrumental performers.”
According to her website, Herzig is originally from Germany but moved to Bloomington in 1991. She then completed her doctorate in Music Education and Jazz Studies at IU and is now a faculty member in arts administration.
While Herzig has played at Bear’s Place many times, she said this concert is a once-in-a-lifetime show for her project. Herzig said the environment of Bear’s Place makes it an ideal venue for jazz music.
“It’s a dedicated group of listeners that goes there,” she said. “They know every Thursday at 5:30, David Miller is going to present them with something special. And they come back and it’s a listening environment, it’s not a background environment that you often encounter at other places.”
Herzig said while many of the artists in the group hail from New York because it is a center for jazz music, Bloomington is also a great place for the genre.
“You have the large university and great support,” she said. “It’s my hometown, so it’s very exciting to be able to bring everybody here. The jazz fables series has been in Bloomington for years, so it’s a great partnership and I’m hoping everybody will come out and enjoy.”