It’s no longer a rare thing for women to write and play jazz, and that’s a good thing, too.
The more than 100 local jazz fans who filled the hall at Davis Bay’s St. John’s United Church on Saturday, April 13, were treated to some rare tunes and standards – all by female composers – with the bonus of the fine vocal and writing talents of Vancouver’s Jennifer Scott at the piano.
Jazz song-writing has long been a male-dominated field, as the audience was reminded by John Frederickson, trumpeter with the Sunshine Coast’s Jazz Group of Seven, which accompanied Scott on the evening’s 16 selections.
One touching ballad the ensemble played, “Just the Thought of You,” was written and arranged by the group’s bassist, Beth Jay. Two others were written by Scott, including “I Will Not Waste Another Day” – a song, “written from pure emotion,” she said.
“I started writing it after my cousin was killed by a drunk driver,” Scott told Coast Reporter during the intermission. “She was a joyful person … a ‘get out there and do it’ kind of person. I wanted to write something that would send a message like she would have wanted.”
While finishing writing the tune, Scott’s sister-in-law passed away after a long illness. “The song ended up being very much about both those two lovely, very strong women in my family.”
As for the older numbers, the evening’s program was split between well-known compositions and some nuggets dug up by the band’s main arranger, Frederickson. So, while we were treated to compositions by Peggy Lee, Billie Holiday, and Diana Krall, we also heard works by Melba Liston, Mary Lou Williams, and Abbey Lincoln.
“I think John has done an amazing job bringing together some very obscure and cool music,” Scott said. “I love the concept. That’s what really attracted me to this project. I looked at it and thought, ‘Ah yes, I’d like to do that.’”
A highlight was the first tune in the second half, “Tired But Wired,” by renowned Vancouver band leader and composer Jill Townsend, which featured some outstanding saxophone work by the band’s Ken Grunenberg. “Jill wrote that tune just for us and just for this show tonight,” said Frederickson. “After putting this show together, we are tired, but wired.”
Frederickson also thanked the Sunshine Coast Music Society’s Terry Andrews and Valerie Anderson for their behind-the scenes efforts on the evening’s production.
Nobody seemed tired after the uplifting and fine rendition of the show’s closing tune, Krall’s “A Charmed Life,” with Scott capturing the composer’s vocal intonation and deft keyboard style perfectly.
“Leading ‘a charmed life,’” said Frederickson, introducing the tune. “Don’t we all up here?”