Yes, there is a difference!

While there is all this talk of changing one’s gender, no one has ever been able to re-arrange any chromosomes. Women, blessed with the double X, were initially associated with jazz in terms of vocalists. This list includes female artists that, to my knowledge, have only stood up in front of a microphone to announce the next song they were going to play.

The good news is that we are able to still see in concert a high percentage of these ladies. So, here are the most important ones, along with recommended recordings, in alphabetical order.

  • Toshiko Akiyoshi: Bebop pianist and bandleader, her Big Band albums like Road Time and The Long Yellow Road are rich modern glories.
  • Geri Allen: The recently departed pianist left us with albums like The Nurturer and The Printmakers
  • Jane Ira Bloom: One of the all time greats on the soprano sax, her Like Silver, Like Song is a beaut.
  • Carla Bley: Always creative in a plethora of settings, The Lost Chords is the Desert Island pick
  • Terri Lyne Carrington: A tribute to the classic Money Jungle has the drummer at her most creative.
  • Regina Carter: Violin sounds of jazz and rural mix on Southern Comfort
  • Anat Cohen: Her warm tenor sax is featured on Noir, while her rich clarinet is well suited on the Brazilian Rosa Dos Ventos
  • Alice Coltrane: one of the first jazz harpists, and her albums like Ptah, the El Daaud are wildly creat
  • Roxy Coss: fairly new to the scene, the saxist sounds great on Restless Idealism
  • Kirsten Edkins: She has only one album out, but Art and Soul is a great debut for the saxist who also plays with the Steely Dan tribute band Pretzel Logic
  • Hiromi: Discovered by Ahmad Jamal, the mercurial pianist teams up in a trio with Stanley Clarke for an astonishing Jazz In The Garden
  • Lisa Hilton: Malibu-based pianist is in resplendent form with Larry Grenadier and Nasheet Waits on Getaway
  • Shirley Horn & Diana Krall: Both sing as well as play piano, so they’re together here. Hard to beat Krall’s early All For You or Horn’s delightfully mellow Close Enough For Love
  • Melba Liston: The trombone is sliding on a classic Melba Liston and her ‘Bones
  • Ann Patterson: Creator of the female big band Maiden Voyage, an excellent album is Night in Torremolinos.
  • Ana Popovic: A menace as a bluesy guitarist, but she shows impressive jazz chops on the 3 disc Trilogy
  • Carol Robbins: A kind of blue harpist, her Jazz Play is a sublime treasure.
  • Shirley Scott: The B3er is best known for her work on smoky sessions with Stanley Turrentine like Ain’t No Way.
  • Esperanza Spalding: The current darling of the jazz scene, the bassist shows her chops on Tom Harrell’s Colors of a Dream and Joe Lovano’s Us Five, and is quite creative on her own material such as Chamber Music Society.
  • Maria Schneider: Probably the best arranger, composer and conductor alive. Her albums Sky Blue and The Thompson Fields are classics for all time.
  • Mary Lou Williams: From swing to bop to religious, this pianist covered the waterfront. Check out Solo Recital or Live at the Cookery to see what she was capable of accomplishing.


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