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The Valley Line: Muse/ique celebrates women in jazz

November 20, 2013|By Jane Napier Neely
  • The barbershop quartet, the Moon Rays entertained Muse/ique gala guests on the Metro Gold Line to L.A.'s Union Station.
The barbershop quartet, the Moon Rays entertained Muse/ique… (Photo by Jane Napier…)

This past weekend I felt like autumn was trying very hard — at last — to get a foothold in our community. Last Saturday heavy gray clouds hung overhead and a brisk breeze sent fallen leaves playing tag down the street.

Basically, I'm just done with 90-degree weather in November so I was thrilled to shiver in the morning as I sipped my coffee.

As you know, the autumn social scene has been more than buzzing. It is hard to keep up with it all. Now I just need to jot it all down for you, so here goes.

A week ago Monday, Muse/ique presented its Uncorked musical series called “Girl/Band — Breaking the Brass Ceiling.” The event was held at the Avon Distribution Center in Pasadena.

Rachael Worby, conductor and music director of Muse/ique, spotlighted female jazz musicians. As concertgoers arrived they were entertained by students of a jazz combo from Westridge School.

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The program at Avon, itself long a symbol of female empowerment, opened with a screening of the acclaimed award-winning documentary film, “The Girls in the Band, “ which traces the history of women jazz artists from the 1930s through present day, exposing sexism and racism faced by the immensely talented women who broke through primarily male music bastions. The film is a compelling look at female musicians and is very well done with lots of tongue-in-cheek humor. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Worby introduced the film's directors/producers Judy Chaikin and Nancy Kissock. They in turn introduced 86-year-old Roz Cron, a fiery red-head who was an alto sax player in the famed International Sweethearts of Rhythm, the first integrated all women's band in the U.S. that began in the 1940s.

After the film, the female group Maiden Voyage All-Stars played great jazz.

Muse/ique is quickly becoming known for its nonconforming, daring programming and it certainly was evident in its recent inaugural fundraising gala that began at Pasadena's Del Mar Metro Station with signature cocktails and great jazz music. The gala raised $170,000.

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