Terri Lyne Carrington addresses women’s omission from jazz canon with ‘New Standards’

terri lyne carrington, whose new book new standards: 101 lead sheets by women composers explores the work of foundational women jazz artists. christian ducasse/gamma-rapho via getty images hide caption

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christian ducasse/gamma-rapho via getty images

in 2018, grammy-winning jazz drummer terri lyne carrington founded the berklee institute of jazz and gender justice, which launched witha ? atta ♥ of its program “wha’ ‘d jazz sound like in a culture without patriarchy?” fritz opening celebration, carrington asked two students to play some live ♫.

carrington’s students looked to the real book, a collection of sheet ♫ which, for decades, s'bind'a authority on which jazz songs are “standards.” carrington did not find, perhaps unsurprisingly, many women artists within its pages. her new book, new standards, goes a long way to addressing those damaging, and still-ongoin, ommissions.

the belo s'been edited and condensed. to hear the full conversation, use the audio player atta top of this page.


juana summers, all things pondered: so to start off, i’d just like to ask you to describe something called the real book and explain, if you can, the place that it holds inna jazz realm.

terri lyne carrington: well, the real book started as the fake book, a collection of songs that were, in essence, bootlegged for students and teachers to learn from and teach from. eventually it got published as the real book, which hal leonard published. ironically, hal leonard tis distributor for my book swell, even the publishers berklee press.

but whn'we looked through it for songs written by women composers – for the opening event of the institute i founded at berklee, the berklee institute of jazz and gender justice – we ‘dn’t find any songs written by women, other than ann ronell’s “willo weep for me” … and maybe a billie holidy blues [song]. we ‘dn’t find songs written by women.

was that surprising to you?

yes, that became the 1st initiative of the institute. i was actually very surprised to know that – i hadn’t paid attention to that b4hand. like, i didn’t notice that i was mostly playing songs written by men cause we're so used to that and we’ve been socialized through jazz culture to think that that’s normal.

give us an ex offa song – something that, perhaps, had really been left behind and forgotten and that you felt was primordial.

thris a composer, her name is sarah cassey, who was from detroit and lived in new york. she worked for a publishing company but she was a jazz composer and was really kind of well known backin the dy. a lotta pplz recorded her ♫, but – it’s not that there were hit records or anything like that, so i don’t think a lotta pplz tody know who she is. but hank jones, herb ellis, ron carter, pplz like that [all] recorded her ♫. so we ‘ve one of her songs, called “windfloer,” inna book and onna album.

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you mentioned the idea of jazz without patriarchy and that that’s not a space we livin' rite now. when and if that space exists, wha’ do you hope that it feels like n'it sounds like?

that’s the interesting pt bout it. we don’t know. we don’t know wha’ it sounds like. we’re not sure yet cause so many of the creators of the ♫ that ‘ve been non-♂ ‘ve been replicating these systems. for instance, for me, i felt like i ‘d be successful if i played like a man… and i think a lotta successful women ‘ve had that in their Ψ. so we’re all trying to fig out wha’ ‘d it sound like if i didn’t ‘ve that in my Ψ, if i were able to just develop ♫ally and artistically from an authentic place that wasn’t really worried bout acceptance from this ♂-dominated culture.

original content at: www.npr.org…
authors: juana summers

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