3 Ways to Show Respect in Jazz: A Woman’s Perspective

Photo Credit Lawrence A. Randall

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend a wonderful panel presentation, “Will Women be the Savior of Jazz?” at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival. This panel was led by Sunny Sumter, Executive Director of the DC Jazz Festival, and panelists included artists Regina Carter and Chelsea Green. The panelists described their experiences as a women instrumentalist on the jazz scene while Sunny asked questions to explore the topic of women in jazz. The topic of respect came up several times, and I am writing this post to give 3 ways we can all show respect on and off the bandstand. I truly believe that jazz is intertwined with social justice, and we should embrace inclusivity, respect, and activism as part of the music of jazz. The good news is, these tips will work for anyone, not just help women in jazz.

Tip #1: Be Early

As a band leader, it took me about 5 years to realize that when musicians were late, it affected my playing. This may sound crazy, but my improvisation chokes up when I’m stressed. Improvising music requires vulnerability – the ability to relax allows thoughts to flow and creativity to inspire. When folks are late, I found myself in a stress ball and more concerned about their well-being than the music. The best thing you can do for yourself as a musician is to be the most reliable, on-time person in the world. Show up an hour early.

Tip #2: Don’t be Weird

If a woman instrumentalist wants to talk about music, don’t treat her any differently than you would a friend. Women instrumentalists are missing out on the camraderie, and this affects their longevity in the profession, development as musicians, and economy of playing. Hire a woman for their playing, and do not objectify them. I have seen women get hired time and time again because dudes were searching, looking, and hoping. I’ve seen women placed in dangerous situations when they think they are going to a “session” but it turns out to be a weird sort of trap. Women play no differently from men, and they should be treated with the same respect you would a brother or a best friend.

Tip #3: Differentiate between Ego and Confidence

I see jam sessions as toxic environments when people cut off someone else’s solo only to take 16 choruses of their own. This annoys the heck out of me, especially when folks don’t know changes. Women get pushed out and off, and that makes it difficult to keep going. At the same time, it’s a two way street – get up on the bandstand with a plan, a solo that arcs, and play music that is interesting enough that folks will want to listen more. To me, this scenario is an example of the difference between ego and confidence. I try to have high self-confidence but low ego. When someone cuts me off, I view them as insecure, with a big ego and low self-confidence. They have something to prove, and need to push others down to get there. Try to work on competing with yourself, plan your personal bests, and let others do their thing. There is no need to insult anyone, make excuses, and create strife. Just do your thing, and let others do their thing too. And keep your solos to 2 choruses at the jam sessions, folks.

What do you think? What are ways we can all create a more respectful environment? Respect for women is beneficial to everyone; it will lift the profession, which will in turn lift the economy of the music, the venues, and Jazz.

2019 – The Year of Apps in Browsers

Recently, I deleted Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter from my phone. I almost immediately felt a lift in spirit, and have not regretted it since. I still have the accounts, just deleted the app, that’s all.

First of all, the invasion of privacy is astounding. Pay close attention to your ads. Have you ever searched for that item? We all know our searches are tracked and then ads are targeted later. If you put an item in a shopping cart online, and then abort, you will get retargeting ads a few minutes later on Facebook.

What really concerns me are the ads for items I did *not* search for.  Our phones are listening and our conversations are constantly mined for “keywords.” Companies pay big money to drill down their advertisements to people talking about a problem they can solve. I’ve seen this happen on my own accounts with large ticket items. Try having a conversation around a few of the following topics, and then pay close attention to the ads you see on Instagram and Facebook. Say the following words aloud.

1. I want to switch careers. I wonder if it would be helpful to have an MBA. I wonder where I should get an MBA. I need figure out what I should do for my career… [keep going, make stuff up]

2. Let’s go on vacation. Hawaii? Costa Rica?

3. I need a new mattress…

4. Honey let’s buy a house

5. Need a new kitchen, bathroom, I need new windows

I would even go so far as to say that these high value keywords are still recorded when the phone is off.

(please note – I am not an expert, just describing what I’ve seen)

Try it!

It’s legal because we agree to this in the terms and conditions.

There is something about these social media apps that causes a bit of jealousy, especially seeing other musicians’ gigs. You might say, but you need social media as a musician? To promote gigs?

First of all, I’m not sure how useful social media is for promoting live shows. It can help propel the wave of marketing, but print and curated media is still king. I would question the effectiveness of social posts. I have seen one, maybe two people come out to a show because they saw a social post, per gig, but it’s never a huge impact.

Facebook Ads do work, but that’s not really a strategy I want to use, if I can help it. That’s more for venues and large orgs.

What posting really does is give cred amongst other musicians, and builds rapport. That’s musician-to-musician business, though, not musician to audience marketing. Musicians are watching each other – checking out new venues, looking for sessions, you know the drill. It’s good for the industry to see what you’re up to. You have to constantly feed your social network and fans with new music (videos, recordings, etc.)

So how does one continue to stay in the eyes and minds of the industry, without sacrificing self-confidence and “FOMOOG” (fear of missing out on gigs)?

The answer, my friend, is to push out social posts with apps in browsers. Simply open Safari or Chrome to the social media site of choice, post your selfie/video/text, and get out. Close the tab. You can post video and pictures to Facebook, and pictures only to Instagram. You can only use IG via browser on your phone, not the desktop. You can view and post to Twitter with your browser. The only one that has been sticky is Pinterest, they force you to open your recipe for the best chocolate brownies in the app. So download and then delete when done.

I am having difficulty deleting Facebook Messenger. I’m not seeing any ads, so I don’t think it’s tracking me (yet), but I’m not an expert. FB Messenger is the most reliable way to reach a lot of folks, and also gives me a way to book people I have met but don’t have their phone number.

Cut the endless scrolling, go get coffee with friends, and cut those social media strings!

Ah, where was I on Instagram stories?

Just kidding!!

By the way, everyone under 25 has figured this out. This post is for us old folks, millennials and older.

For Immediate Release: The 17th Annual Jazz4Justice Concert features a new partnership between George Mason University and Legal Services of Northern Virginia

George Mason University School of Music

presents
THE 17TH ANNUAL JAZZ4JUSTICE™
featuring a new partnership between George Mason University
and Legal Services of Northern Virginia

Friday, November 16, 2018 at 8 p.m.
Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas


Saturday, November 17, 2018 at 8 p.m.
Center for the Arts in Fairfax

 (FAIRFAX)— George Mason University’s School of Music presents the 17th annual Jazz4Justice LIVE! concert and fundraiser on Friday, November 16 at 8 p.m. in the Hylton Performing Arts Center and Saturday, November 17 at 8 p.m. in the Center for the Arts. The events raise funds to directly support vital legal services and the George Mason University Jazz Studies program. Information and tickets are currently available at hyltoncenter.org and cfa.gmu.edu.

For the first time, Jazz4Justice™ is presented in partnership with Legal Services of Northern Virginia (LSNV), the largest legal aid organization in Northern Virginia. “We are looking forward to partnering with Jazz4Justice™ as well as the entire Mason community to promote justice for a better community by providing civil legal assistance to those facing the loss of a critical need,” affirmed Marcy Kossar, Director of Development for LSNV.

James Carroll, Professor of Jazz Studies and Mason Jazz Ensemble Director, has assembled a stellar musical program for the upcoming Jazz4Justice™ performances. He shared, “we are excited to feature alto saxophone virtuoso Charlie Young, Professor of Music at Howard University and leader/Artistic Director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Charlie is, absolutely without a doubt, ‘the best’. In addition, we will feature amazing student musicians and compositions from Mason’s Jazz Studies Department, and there will be an open jam session hosted by Mason students following each concert. We will also be producing a live recording of the concert. We truly hope local audiences and arts supporters can join us for this wonderful collaboration between Mason Jazz and the legal community.”

Tickets to Jazz4Justice™ at the Hylton Center are available in person at the Ticket Office (open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.), by calling at 703-993-7759, or at hyltoncenter.org. Tickets to the Center for the Arts’ concert are also available in at the Ticket Office (open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.), by calling at 703-993 2787, or at cfa.gmu.edu.

About Jazz4Justice

In 2000, Fairfax attorney Ed Weiner attended a student jazz recital. He was impressed by the music but distressed by the small audience. As the President of the Fairfax Law Foundation, he saw an opportunity for a new partnership – universities would provide the musical talent and the local legal community would provide the audience and sponsors. Today, Jazz4Justice concerts are held throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thus far, Jazz4Justic has raised over $350,000 for music scholarships and an array of educational and charitable services benefiting Virginia’s local communities. Jazz4Justice has received awards from the American Bar Association and the Virginia State Bar.

About the School of Music

The Mason School of Music is part of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Students study with nationally and internationally recognized faculty who are active performers, conductors, composers, music theoreticians, historians, and music teachers. Admission is based on acceptance to the university and audition. The music program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

About the College of Visual and Performing Arts

The College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) provides an academic environment in which the arts are explored as individual disciplines and interdisciplinary forms that strengthen one another. The college prepares students for careers as creators, performers, teachers, scholars, arts leaders and arts entrepreneurs. Understanding that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the college, welcomes a variety of professional and world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Students have the opportunity to perform, create and exhibit their work in a wide variety of public venues including a 2,000-seat Concert Hall. CVPA is home to the Schools of Music, Dance, Art and Theater, as well as the Computer Game Design, Arts Management, and Film and Video Studies programs.

About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 35,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility.

About Legal Services of Northern Virginia

Legal Services of Northern Virginia (LSNV), a private, not-for-profit organization, offers free legal services to low income individuals and families, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and victims of domestic violence residing in Northern Virginia. With 7 offices located throughout the region, LSNV completed more than 6,000 cases in 2017 benefitting 15,000 individuals, providing assistance in the following substantive areas:

  • family law, focusing primarily on matters which include domestic violence
  • housing law which includes eviction and foreclosure prevention cases
  • consumer law
  • public benefits
  • veteran’s affairs
  • employment law
  • elder law
  • child advocacy
  • education law with a focus on children with special needs
  • HIV/AIDS Project

LSNV’s mission could not be accomplished without the generous support of the Northern Virginia community. We thank you for your support and invite you to learn more about how we benefit the community at www.lsnv.org.

Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes to Perform at Republic Restoratives 3/2

Get Tickets: http://bullettes.brownpapertickets.com/

Start out the evening with a classy cocktail around 5:30 pm inspired by the community spirit that is Republic Restoratives, a new women-owned distillery turned venue in town. They are located just a few blocks north of the Angelika pop up and humane society on New York Ave in Northeast DC. There is plenty of parking (free for 2 hours) within a block in the Hecht’s garage. All ticket holders are given 20% off drinks. Feel free to drink water or soda, it’s not required to drink alcohol. Around 7 pm we’ll convene intro the huge industrial style back room.  You can also order food to be delivered, and there is a nice pizza spot nearby that delivers to the distillery. There are about 10 restaurants within a block, and Union Market is also really close.

Audience members will enjoy a trek through time following the changes in style of the jazz tradition with performances of arrangements by Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Oliver Nelson, and Thad Jones. Following their tribute to the masters, the jazz orchestra will play world premieres of new music by band members as well as groove arrangements of recent popular music. This will be a nice event, and we hope to see you there!

Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes
All-female Big Band
March 2nd, 2017 @ Republic Restoratives Craft Distillery and Bar
1369 New York Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002
7:00 and 9:00 Sets
Tickets range from $7 – $15

Tickets for each set will be sold separately. Ticket holders for the 7 pm set are welcome to stay through the 9 pm set.

TICKETS: http://bullettes.brownpapertickets.com/

Personnel:
Leigh Pilzer, alto sax
Halley Shoenberg, alto
Megan Nortrup, tenor
Julieta Eugenio, tenor
Michelle Acton, Bari
Mike “Bags” Davis, trumpet
Ginger Turner, trumpet
Alison Rogers, trumpet
Shannon Gunn, trombone
Nicole Connolly, trombone
Amy Bormet, piano
Adi Meyerson, bass
Ana Barreiro, drums

Bullettes to Perform September 20th At Castleton

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This is a cross posting to my other blog for my all-woman big band, Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes.
The Bullettes are busy this month! 
 
We hope you can join us this coming Sunday, September 20th, to kick off the Castleton in Performance series at the Castleton Theatre! This is a very prestigious event and we are extremely excited to perform there. 
 
At Castleton, the theme is to encourage young people in jazz. We will feature Caeley Niess (recognize that name?) on trumpet playing “Portrait of Louis Armstrong.” Yup, you read it right. We also have Jazz Academy All Star Ingrid Winkler on Baritone Sax joining us for a rousing rendition of “Moanin’.” Finally, I am super excited to invite Catie Story, Sam Sandler, and Dan Lyster-Mensh from Fauquier High School to the stage to help fill out our band for Nestico’s arrangement of “Fly Me To The Moon.” It will be a swingin’ affair! I have really enjoyed working with all of these high school students. The concert will benefit the Fauquier High School band program and will feature a history of jazz in the concert, topped off with originals by band members. I am extremely happy and blessed to get to play with such amazing musicians! Not to mention we have Sarah Hughes flying in from Boston, Miki Yamanaka coming in from New York, the amazing Jessica Boykin-Settles on vocals – you get it, the list goes on and on! Please check out our roster below!
 
Here are the details:
Sunday, September 20th
4 – 6 pm
Castleton Theatre House
7 Castleton Meadows Lane, Castleton, VA, 22716
(Please note: there is no cell data service out there)
Tickets are $20 to $40 and can be purchased here:
 
We will also be on the Morning Show at CBS in Richmond, VA on Friday, September 18th, at 9 am, to promote this upcoming Castleton performance! I am excited to bring in Adi Meyerson and Miki Yamanaka from NY as well as Jessica Boykin-Settles, Lydia Lewis, Alex Flanagan, and Caeley Niess to perform on TV! Many thanks to my folks for putting up the band!
 
 
Additionally, we’ll be going into the studio on Wednesday to record some tunes for our upcoming album, “Bullettes and Friends.” We will be releasing this album on Saturday, October 10th, at the Durant Center in Alexandria, VA, presented by Nomadic Jazz. Tickets are $25 in advance and $33 at the door. Anyone who purchases an advance sale will get a complimentary copy of the CD. We will make a limited run! I am extremely proud and excited to present new original music to you all. Here is the link for ticket pre-sales: http://instnt.us/NomadicJazz .
We hope to see you soon! As always, please feel free to hit reply and let me know how you are doing!
 
Keep swingin’!
 
Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes
 
September 20th:
Jessica Boykin-Settles, Vocals
Sarah Hughes, Alto
Halley Shoenberg, Alto
Michelle Acton, Tenor
Megan Nortrup, Tenor
Alex Flanagan, Bari
Mike “Bags” Davis, Trumpet
Cheryl Terwilliger, Trumpet
Caeley Niess, Trumpet
Kirsten Warfield, Trombone
Shannon Gunn, Trombone
Miki Yamanaka, Piano
Cyndy Elliott, Bass
Savannah Harris, Drums
 
Ingrid Winkler, Bari sax, Rockville MD
Catie Story, Trumpet, Fauquier HS
Sam Sandler, Trombone, Fauquier HS
Dan Lyster-Mensh, Fauquier HS

 

Jazz and Freedom Festival

 

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Website: http://jazzandfreedom.com, http://capitalbop.com 

News: Jazz and Freedom Festival

Produced by: CapitalBop and JTTB Records

  • Cost: $20 suggested donation, portion of the proceeds benefit EmpowerDC
  • 411 New York Ave NE
  • Where: Union Arts
  • 4 pm – 12 am
  • When: Sunday, January 18th, 2015
  • Groups: Guest Panel of Speakers including Rusty Hassan and Fred Foss
  • Bullettes Octet,
  • Trio OOO,
  • Reginald Cyntje and Herman Burney duo
  • Alison Crockett,
  • Nasar Abadey and Jamal Moore duo
  • Jazz and Freedom Octet

Washington, D.C. – On Sunday, January 18th, 2015, there will be a Jazz and Freedom Festival at Union Arts Warehouse from 4 pm to 12 am in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. The festival will feature a guest panel of speakers and six bands followed by a jam session at the end. The festival is produced in conjunction with CapitalBop (http://capitalbop.com) and JTTB Records (http://jazztothebone.com). Union Arts is an underground warehouse for artists and it will be a warm atmosphere with food and donations accepted. A portion of the proceeds will go to Empower DC, a non-profit dedicated to helping the DC community (http://empowerdc.org).

At 4 pm on January 18th at Union Arts, there will be a panel discussion on jazz and its role in social activism featuring Fred Foss and Rusty Hassan. Fred Foss played saxophone and woodwinds with Hugh Masekela and Lionel Hampton, among others. Rusty Hasssan runs a jazz radio show at WPFW-FM and is very knowledgable about the history of jazz and its ties with freedom and justice. Then, at 5 pm, “Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes” all female octet will perform a tribute to Mingus. Following that will be free jazz ensemble “Trio OOO” at 6 pm. Then, Reginald Cyntje (jazz trombone) and Herman Burney (bass) will perform a jazz duo at 7 pm. At 8 pm, local songstress and outspoken hero Alison Crockett will perform selections from her one woman show, “Is this it? My American Dream.” Following her performance will be a duo with Nasar Abadey (percussion) and Jamal Moore (saxophone) at 9 pm. At 10 pm will be the Jazz and Freedom Octet, an ensemble created to promote peace and social justice by performing music that inspires freedom. The Jazz and Freedom Octet comprises of Jessica Boykin-Settles on vocals, Grant Langford on tenor sax, Donvonte McCoy on trumpet, Elijah Easton on tenor sax, Shannon Gunn on trombone, Sam Prather on piano, Karine Chapdelaine-Walker on bass, and Savannah G. Harris on drum set and will be joined by Tony Martucci on congas for this performance.  

The idea for this festival was was the brain-child of Shannon Gunn, local jazz trombonist and high school music technology teacher who runs a non-profit record label called JTTB Records (http://jazztothebone.com). She was inspired by a similar performance where her professors at Michigan State University performed as part of a Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend celebration in 2003. She approached Gio Russonello and Luke Stewart of CapitalBop (http://capitalbop.com), a blog that keeps tabs on the local jazz scene, to see if they might be interested in co-producing the festival at the Union Arts location. The two entities united their forces in pulling in artists and speakers together and turned the event into a fundraiser for EmpowerDC, a local community activist group whose mission is to enhance, improve and promote the self-advocacy of low and moderate income DC residents in order to bring about sustained improvements in their quality of life. (http://empowerdc.org) Half of the door donations will be donated to EmpowerDC.          

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Jazz and Freedom Octet to Perform for the Jazz and Freedom Festival 2015

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The Jazz and Freedom Octet is an ensemble created to promote peace and social justice by performing music that inspires freedom. The Jazz and Freedom Octet comprises of Jessica Boykin-Settles on vocals, Grant Langford on tenor sax, Donvonte McCoy on trumpet, Shannon Gunn on trombone, Sam Prather on piano, Karine Chapdelaine-Walker on bass, and Savannah G. Harris on drum set.

The Jazz and Freedom Octet will perform two shows for the Jazz and Freedom Festival 2015. They will start on Saturday, January 17th at a house show in Falls Church, Va. Then, on Sunday, January 18th, they will be last show at 10 pm for the Jazz and Freedom Festival at Union Arts located at 411 New York Ave NE in Washington, D.C. Please contact Shannon Gunn if you’d like more information or to book a reservation for the house show. $20 donation suggested for each show.