Greg Henry Waters Newsletter June 2005

Women in the Musical Arts Composing, Performing and Dance

 

Well, these last couple of weeks I was repairing my flute and practicing my clarinet and flute trying to get my reading back in shape after many years of not practicing my exercises.

 

This article is to celebrate women in the Arts and how great they can be!

On Tuesday, I went to a local club in Manhattan and performed with some great Flamenco Musicians from Spain.  It was a real privilege for me to perform with them because they are like American Jazz Musicians in that they are the original item from their home in Northern Spain. Musicians of this class are completely authentic and pure. Tuesdays at http://www.euzkadirestaurant.com 108 E 4th Street, Manhattan

 

But what struck me mostly about the evening was these females Flamenco Dancers coming in there and dancing with us.  You see, this was the second time I was in the club. There were only two dancers in the club that night so I did not pay much attention to it. I just thought that it was some friends of Arturo.  But, the second time I went there I brought my horns, Flute and Clarinet, and performed two sets with them and got the real flavor of the group and the atmosphere.  This last Tuesday there were four dancers there giving their flavor of Flamenco Dancing?

 

My point is that these females were really interested in the freedom of expression which the Flamenco Dancing gave them and that it was a force in their lives.

 

Flamenco Music is a creative music like jazz in that they do improvise a lot and the dancers improvise a lot so it is a joy of freedom of expression which we so lack in everyday society. Jazz celebrates this freedom of expression too.

 

My Raja Yoga teacher,

Bianca Rogge

, was a modern dancer from the Mary Wigman School of Dance in Germany.  She was one of the most creative artist I ever met and so wise too.  She was my Mother of the arts.  She is my hero in the arts and will always be.  My point is the contribution of women in the arts is so great that we sometimes pass them in the background, but in Yoga women are not passed by and stand in high regard.  Ever try to argue with a woman, if you are a man, it is very difficult to get one's point across.  Somehow they always come out on top in the discussion.  Now I have learned not to try to win my point.  Bianca was my Mother of the art in me and will always be that in my heart. She believed that Flamenco Dancing was a high art and pure art is my point and that the women promote this art with their dance.

I remember watching Bianca's Dance Concerts, she had about two concerts a year and different small theatres in Toronto. Her concerts were so original and modern that I still can picture them in my head and see her dancers move through the steps.

Her ability was magic, but so few could see it and the Canadian government did not honor her work which was very sad too because she was such an original artist. They put their money into such junk like we do in this country.

 

 

Well, I was invited to go to a concert at Birdland on 44th Street in Manhattan to a group of jazz female saxophone performers plus guitars and piano which was a celebration of their release of their new album,
Sax in the City.

 

Wow, what a celebration of women in jazz, there were two guitar performers, pianists, alto, soprano, tenor, baritone saxophone performers.  There names are: Laura Dreyer, Deanna Witkowki, Sue Terry, Sarah Jane Cion, Virginia Mayhew, Jane Getter, Cecilla Tenconi, Ada Rovatti, Sheryl Bailey Jenny Hill and Kerry Politzer. They all performed separately and together in a large group. I could say so much about the concert and these women, but let me try to keep it short and get my point across women in the performing arts as creative artists too.

 

So, each had a special character and the shame of it all is that one could only get the flavor of their ability because of limited time to listen to them and the venue was a little stiff because they were all performing with the same rhythm section.  I thought the drummer was just too powerful and setting the style too much for the group.  All though some of the performers fit in with the drums very well others not so well. 

 

This is what makes performing so difficult is the individual expression with in the jazz style that the musicians are allowed to influence the performance to a great degree. Let us get off this subject because we want to celebrate these women.

 

In my opinion Ella Fitzgerald was probably the all time great jazz musician of all time.  They talk about her a lot but I never hear people say too much of her influence in jazz and her creative output was so original and so above everybody else.

 

I worked for her for two weeks in Toronto at the Royal York Hotel and what I noticed about her was how humble she was and how respectful she was to her musicians.  Anyway, a great woman in jazz Ella was if there ever was one and maybe the most important jazz musician of all time too.

 

Back to the females at Birdland, well, those girls really are something else putting all that work into their music. I am so proud of them.  I wish I could have told them what great women and artists they are. I am trying to do that now in with my newsletter of course.

 

They all are very special people and extremely courageous as far as I am concerned.  Going home on the subway I was thinking and noticed that these women who performed today were extremely gifted and deserve so much attention from society.   But we know how difficult that is; it seems that the lower class figures get more attention (pop singers).  Anyway, I just want all of my readers to know my feeling after watching everyone perform today and thinking about the music, performance, style and solos.

 

They all deserve a wonderful life, lots of love and lots of money.  When I was learning music these jazz ladies were not there as far as I knew.  We had one female saxophone in the Lab Bands at North Texas back in 65-66 and she was just a reader not a soloist like the performers today.  Now any of these girls could perform in the one o'clock band and perform great jazz solos with the jazz band.

 

Music in jazz certainly has changed since I started out in music after my education at University of North Texas and Chicago Conservatory in Chicago.  I won the mid-west jazz festival back then for outstanding woodwind performer in Jazz.  Now if I had to do that again I would have to compete with some of these women and believe me I might not win.

 

My friend Sarah Jane Cion, a greatly gifted composer and pianist artist invited me to this concert and I want to thank her for opening up my eyes to the new area of women in jazz.  I would be proud to perform with any of these women.

 

My point is there are so many people who deserve respect in life and money too that do not get it.  Support creative artists, for they enrich our lives like nothing else does in life.  My yoga teacher said that art is the only real purpose in life all else falls into the river of nothingness.

 

My point is support creative women in the arts or any artist who tries to bring the dignity of life to the world.

 

Greg Henry Waters

 

Foot Note: You know my article was a celebration for me of the woman in my life in the arts Bianca Rogge my Raja Yoga Teacher who was a great artist.  Sax in the City for me was an expression of this creative free spirit against all odds and conditions in our society for these women did not pick the easy road or an easy profession, but the most difficult of roads in their lives. What I am today as an artist is because of a woman, not a man, is because of her courage, strength and ideas; because She gave me the vision and knowledge to move forward into the true circle of life to be free as an artist and not be trapped into being famous or a style or just one way. Or, to have friends, because these new friends can advance my career. If I become their friend.

The women at the Flamenco Night (with their dance) at the Bar and the Women
Musicians at Birdland all are expressing themselves in a pure way trying to get the best out of their style and music for the love of the music not for the love of fame.  This was so great for me to see that and just to know that there are such wonderful women out there leading the artist's life with all the difficulties that making a living as an artist presents. 

Anyway I placed my article on my website it was not a review of a CD or a Concert but a celebration of women in the Arts as pure, selfless wonderful people.  http://greghenrywaters.com/musicnews  article 43 really, but I did not edit it. You see on my site there are not any conditions it is free to write what one wants to write without outside opinions.  It is not about control and manipulation but about freedom of expression.   

I even have a message board so others can leave their ideas. But no one likes to leave ideas I have learned most people are into non-thinking, mentally dead really, promoting the status of their peer group like Wynton does all the time.

 

For those who want to agree with me or disagree with me!

Always Greg
Artist of
Music and Raja Yoga Instructor

 

 

 

http://greghenrywaters.com

http://greghenrywaters.com/yoga/

 

 

 

A letter and opinion about women in jazz future and opinion by Greg Henry Waters Footnote Two

To Whom it May Concern:

I have been thinking about your concert and how eye opening it was for me and how out of date I have been with what is going on.

Now, you ladies were making a statement about your creativity and your performance. Now, I believe you have a CD which promotes women's jazz. You have a right to promote your talent, your music just like the Black Jazz Musicians promote their label as the true jazz musician and others only get mentioned by them. Let us face reality with this one OK?

I believe because you are women in jazz you have to make a stronger statement. Like Ada said, "if you do not buy this CD you will not have sex in the city." This was supposed to be funny and serious at the same time, but I think she was trying to say we deserve more attention in the jazz world we are equal or better to anyone in this profession.

Of course, you know I wrote the group asking you what the future would be for you ladies. I thought Sax in the City one night a week like they have at the Village Gate on Mondays would be great for you all. This would make a statement about who you are and about your music. The old saying out of sight out of mind is so true. Everything is a label. When I was in China all the businessmen were talking about was brand label. This was the most important thing in business and created the most money. I am a white middle class guy from Wisconsin not much to notice really and just a plan American no ethnic identity, But you ladies certainly do have an identity and I think you should exploit it.

If you want to continue you momentum with this project of great women jazz artists you must do something about it or just live the way you are and were.

I read all the bios of all the ladies if I could log into their Internet sites they produced. They are all working separately on their projects just like I am doing on my computer. But you now have a CD, a group, a concert format, a large ensemble and a lot of great looking women.

I believe you should promote women in jazz more like you did at this concert, and do not be shy about it! The black jazz musicians are not shy about promoting their music. I also think you should dress like women and not dress in men's outfits, but maybe I am wrong about this I am sure you all have an opinion on this one. But you brought up the subject of women in jazz I did not. You heard the stories about Bill Evans in Miles' group and how he was miss treated. Miles could do nothing about this treatment of Bill, but Miles was into music. As you know Bill was one of the giants in jazz in all its history.

I believe this to be a political reality in jazz. I do not know if you agree with me on this. I was performing with Tito Prente's band and after Jimmy died the new contractor only hired Latin musicians. I no longer worked for that organization for an example. Here in New York there are all kinds of these groups working together and against each other. If I had a support group like you gals do I would try to do more than to just write articles about music.

As far as I am concerned making it in music has nothing to do with your ability or talent it is completely political.

I know playing in clubs is not the best thing in the world to do. But everyweek you ladies could be a voice for women in jazz if you setup a gig that is for almost all women only. Women can talk men into anything if they put their mind to it. So it is up to you ladies on making a statement about women in jazz. Not as a token musician but as equal musicians. Speak up like they did in the civil rights moment and the women's moment do not let the jazz community keep you in the background or the entertainment community. You know the entertainment community here in the States is one of the biggest businesses in the international world. My question is why are we not rich? Why are we always struggling? Why do others have so much control over our lives? This is suppose to be a free country? What a joke when it comes to business?

You know, Issac Stern created the American Guild of Artist to keep out other performers and artists to control the market place in classical music here in New York. Bella Bartok could not get a gig here. He was a beggar on Broadway for coffee and breakfasts. This is not sharing the love of musical art, but is the most selfish and discussing behavior for me that this idea of a free market place is false and that these little men who look like big men have so much power.

I hope you all will stand up for your place in jazz history and rights as people and as professional jazz artists in business to create a better place, identity and career.

Of course, these words are only my opinion after thinking about all of you for the past four days; since I became award of this situation.

Always Greg Henry Waters

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