Excluding singers, women in jazz haven’t had an easy time making their way to the front of the stage. There are of course the likes of Mary Lou Williams, Jaimie Branch, Geri Allen and Alice Coltrane. But up until recently, female jazz artists have been few and far between in the male-dominated and at times rather sexist genre.

At the beginning of 2017, things were kicking off in the jazz world. Some people even called it “The Saga of Musical Clitoris”. It all started with Robert Glasper interviewing his fellow musician Ethan Iverson. Glasper, the genre-juggling mixed-jazz guru was saying that women who “you would never think listen to jazz: young, fine, Euro chicks” love The Bad Plus, Iverson’s old group. “I guess that’s one of the reasons to play, really” Iverson replied. Glasper went on: “I’ve seen what that does to the audience, playing that groove. I love making the audience feel that way. Getting back to women: women love that. They don’t love a whole lot of soloing. When you hit that one groove and stay there, it’s like musical clitoris. You’re there, you stay on that groove, and the women’s eyes close and they start to sway, going into a trance.” *Huge public outcry*. Especially since these aren’t two old men from a time when misogyny was commonplace but two forty-somethings who are meant to be open-minded and progressive. Long story short, sexism is still going strong – in music and across other creative fields – and equality seems like a long way away.

When you say the words “women” and “jazz”, the same names always come to mind: Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae and Cassandra Wilson, along with a few other singers. Singers, yes, since the history of instrumentalists has been purely restricted to men. From the 20s to the present, male pianists, drummers, saxophonists, double bassists, trumpeters, harpists, bassists (all non-singers basically) have been able to record their music and go down in history. Things are starting to equal out a little, as shown by the media coverage of the recent albums by trumpeter Jaimie Branch (Fly or Die and Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise), cellist Tomeka Reid (Old New), drummer Kate Gentile (Mannequins), saxophonist Matana Roberts (Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis) and the English women from the band Nérija (Blume). Yet as a whole, jazz is still depressingly unbalanced.