Be-bopping with The Girls in the Band
Los Angeles-In honor of Women’s History Month, the Friends of Jazz at UCLA presented the award-winning documentary The Girls in the Band. This movie, concert, Q&A and reception was held on a hot Sunday afternoon, March 16, 2014 at 2PM, inside the air conditioned Lenart Auditorium, Fowler Museum@ UCLA.
Many members of the jazz community were in attendance for an inspiring, educational and entertaining film and Q&A discussion. The Girls in the Band is an award-winning documentary film that tells the fascinating and incredible stories of female jazz musicians and their groundbreaking journeys from the 1930’s to today. Despite endearing sexism, racism, and limited opportunities, these superbly talented women persevered. The crowd and I witnessed the women’s commitment, courage, dedication and resiliency in staying the course, as they made a major contribution to our appreciation of America’s #1 Art Form: JAZZ!
The New York Times describes the film as, “everything a worthwhile documentary should be, and then some: engaging, informative, thorough and brimming with delightful characters.
The film had the audience laughing, cheering, applauding, but most of all reflecting on the achievements/accomplishments of these amazing women, despite the challenges that they face in the past as well as present day challenges and opportunities. The audience were swaying and tapping their feet to the swinging sounds of The Girls in the Band.
UCLA Professor and Grammy-nominated trumpeter Dr. Bobby Rodriquez served as Master of Ceremonies. A lively and engaging Q&A discussion followed the showing of the documentary. Judy Chaikin, Director/Filmmaker, Nancy Kissock, Producer, Clora Bryant, trumpetiste, Anne Patterson, saxophonist and Roz Cron, saxophonist participated in the Q&A. Judy also acknowledge and recognized Madelyn Carter (the widow of Benny Carter), and guitarist Phil Upchurch.
A tight, all female jazz band offered a special treat of jazz tunes to entertain the crowd. The band consisted of Nedra Wheeler-bass, Harmony Chua-piano, Sara Sithi-Amnuai-trumpet, Hitomi Oba-saxophone and Maria Martinez-drums. Their set consisted of the tunes “Joshua” by Victor Feldman, “Witch Hunt” by Wayne Shorter, “Foof” an original composition by Harmony Chua, and “St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins.
The filmmakers stated that “they are working on an educational curriculum for schools which will be available in the future.” Please visit www.thegirlsintheband.com for more information about this truly wonderful documentary.
Friends of Jazz at UCLA provide resources to advance the study, performance and appreciation of jazz at UCLA and in the broader community. Core objectives including supporting the UCLA Jazz Studies Program with student scholarships and master classes; presenting jazz events with entertainment and educational value; providing music outreach to local secondary schools; and advancing the development of the Kenny Burrell Archive of African American Music. For more information about Friends of Jazz at UCLA, please visit: http://friendsofjazz.ucla.edu
Residents of Los Angeles have another opportunity to see this historical documentary. The California African American Museum www.caamuseum.org will be screening the documentary on June 12th, at 7:00PM, in celebration of Black Music Month.