This theme is needed, but far from new. The Kennedy Center in Washington hosts a yearly Women in Jazz Festival, often linked with the legacy of Mary Lou Williams. New York has had its Diet Coke Festival, dedicated to the female persuasion, and all-female ensembles are far from rare in the progressive jazz community. Appearing at the Festival on August 2 will be the Jenny Scheinman Quartet, the "Sweet" Sue Terry Quartet and the Jamie Baum Quintet, with the great Peggy Stern's Estrella Latin band bringing the fest to a close.
For those who make a plan, here is the lineup:
5-5:30: The River Jazz Choir
5:45-6:45: Jamie Baum Quintet
7-8: "Sweet" Sue Terry Quartet
8:15-9:15: Jenny Scheinman Quartet with Allison Miller
9:30-11: Estrella Samba y Salsa
"Sweet" Sue Terry has that rare combination of a sweet alto sound, but one that carries heft. She would have to, arriving at her current perch via the rough-and-tumble New York City post-bop crowd. Kind of like how a female leader of state often feels the need to become hawkish, so too do female reed players. But seemingly not Terry: Her approach, which can be enjoyed on various levels via her website (suterry.net), reveals a mature interpreter of melody, but one who winks and smiles at clichés and often takes a listener for an unpredictable ride.
Hopefully some of you are already loving the sounds of violinist/composer Jenny Scheinman, who was featured in these pages just last week. The group she brings into Kingston - which features guitarist Adam Levy, bassist Todd Sickafoose and drummer Alison Miller - has become a well-oiled machine, playing together at the leader's intimate Tuesday-evening hits at Barbes, a tiny club on the outskirts of Park Slope in Brooklyn.
The flutist Jamie Baum has been on a bit of a roll, with two fine records out under her name in the past year and a string of Downbeat "Best Flautist" awards. Her Moving Forward, Standing Still (OmniTone) from last year sets up the brand-new Solace, which includes a play on Charles Ives and features the fine piano stylings of George Colligan - whom some of you may remember from his area appearances with Don Byron - and the stunning trumpet work of Shane Endsley, who hopefully will be on the gig this weekend.
Each year the Festival concludes with salsa dancing under the stars to Peggy Stern's Estrella Samba y Salsa. Her vibe and her compositional strength can overshadow her lyrical, emotive, yet not pandering approach to melody. So perhaps the band can provide some extra solo space for the leader? When one writes a tune that becomes part of the jazz musician's vocabulary, the composer enters into a club with very few members. Stern has done that, since so many of us struggle with "The Aerie": a beautiful tune in 3/4, chock-full of major seventh chords with a raised fifth, that is in the Chick Sher Real Book, the industry standard for working players. It make sense that she has recorded and appeared with folks like Lee Konitz, Diane Schuur, Stanley Turrentine, David "Fathead" Newman and Emily Remler.
Free parking and a shuttle bus are available from Schwenk Avenue and Kingston Plaza. This is a rain-or-shine event, with festivities moving to Backstage Productions if the weather is uncooperative. For more information on the Wall Street Jazz Festival, visit www.wallstreetjazzfestival.com.