Artist Feature: Camille Thurman

thurman jazz record

FJR founder, Jordannah Elizabeth’s cover article for The New York City Jazz Record‘s August 2021 issue.

New York City native Camille Thurman has been making an impact on the jazz world for the past decade as both as a tenor saxophonist/flutist and vocalist. She is the first female member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) and is ascending into jazz stardom with infinite grace and creativity. Thurman can be heard on her own recordings for Hot Tone Music and Chesky as well on albums by the JLCO, Dianne Reeves, Mimi Jones, Rachel Eckroth, Jerome Jennings, Shirazette Tinnin and Michael Olatuja. Among the honors she has received are runner-up in the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competition, ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award, Fulbright Scholars Cultural Ambassador Grant and Chamber Music of America Performance Plus Grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

As with all the other musicians working to readjust and bounce back from the isolation of the pandemic, the past year-plus has not been easy or linear for Thurman. “The toughest thing that I had to overcome was being still,” said Thurman. “As musicians we’re always moving, we’re always working on projects, especially as freelance artists, we’re always creating, figuring out how to make it work and how to present and where to present it. The pandemic kind of put everything to a halt and made all of us try to figure out what was really important, but also made us think about what we’re actually doing and reevaluating the things we do that keep us busy and the meaning behind it.” Continue reading “Artist Feature: Camille Thurman”

New and Diverse Voices on Jazz: Harmony Holiday’s Substack, Jessica Hopper’s second edition


FJR founder, Jordannah Elizabeth’s July 2021 column ‘New and Diverse Voices’ for Jazz Journalist Association

Harmony Holiday writes a stellar Substack (blog/newsletter) entitled Black Music and Black Muses; journalist and essayist Jessica Hopper has revised and expanded her 2015 anthology, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic.

To encourage the exploration of underrepresented voices in jazz journalism and criticism, Diverse Voices on Jazz highlights the contributions, efforts and publications of women, among others, in the form of recent reviews, feature articles, op-ed, historical and analytical non-fiction. This column is meant to offer a resource, to acquire research material for academic and non-fiction writing and to highlight the exemplary work of writers who deserve to be read, photographers and videographers whose works should bee seen, broadcasters who should be heard.

Though this column mainly focuses on jazz writings, Hopper deserves an honorable mention for opening the world to collection from a woman that has stretched the limitations of masculine-centered music criticism. Continue reading “New and Diverse Voices on Jazz: Harmony Holiday’s Substack, Jessica Hopper’s second edition”

Amina Claudine Myers: A Lifetime of Love


FJR founder, Jordannah Elizabeth’s cover article for The New York City Jazz Record‘s July 2021 issue.

79-year-old pianist, vocalist, composer and visionary improviser Amina Claudine Myers is admirably active, continuing to nurture her artistic musical skills as if time was never a factor and utilizing every moment as an opportunity to evolve.

he could be considered an improvisational matriarch simply on the merit of her ability to cultivate and inspire great works of music with a positive and intuitive nature. One does not have to be a woman to be matriarchal; this archetype can be honed by being consistent, trustworthy and reliable in communitybuilding and offering those around them a loving environment. “I grew up in the country in Arkansas. I didn’t appreciate where I grew up until I became an adult. I was exposed to fruit and vegetables from gardens and picking fruit off the trees, riding my grandfather’s horse bareback. The people in Blackwell, Arkansas were about love. That’s something that has kept me going. The people would come together and the women were canning and quilting. There was a lot of love in Blackwell. That has inspired me to be where I am today,” says Myers.

Myers started studying piano at four years old. “My great uncle started me on music and I started taking piano in the nearest town from the white Catholic nuns who gave me lessons when I was a girl.” Myers is most known for her involvement, years later, with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a groundbreaking collective of creative artists springing to life in Chicago in 1965. It was through connecting and performing with members of this community that she found her improvisational footing, one which has never wavered since her early days with the organization. Continue reading “Amina Claudine Myers: A Lifetime of Love”

Jaimie Branch’s FLY or DIE LIVE Review


FJR founder, Jordannah Elizabeth’s review for The New York City Jazz Record‘s July 2021 issue.

Within the first few moments of delving into the musical landscape of Jaimie Branch’s FLY or DIE LIVE, even the most adept listener can mistake the masterfully produced live album for a serenely tailored studio recording. It takes time to adjust and embrace the realization, leaving one with a morsel of envy for the crowd who were able to experience Branch’s music washing over them like gentle waves of a sonic river without any form of distance and barrier.

FLY or DIE LIVE was recorded in Zürich, Switzerland in January 2020, less than two months before the world was stopped in international lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can hear the confidence of Branch’s band, playing without fear or any semblance of anxiety, a marker of the past and the freedom of a pre-pandemic live performance. Continue reading “Jaimie Branch’s FLY or DIE LIVE Review”

New & Diverse Voices on Jazz: Peerless trumpeter, Argentine singer by Jennifer Lucy Allan, Kira Grunenberg


FJR founder, Jordannah Elizabeth’s June 2021 article for Jazz Journalist Association

New & Diverse Voices on Jazz highlights recent published reviews, feature articles, op-ed, historical and analytical non-fiction works by women, among others.

Jennifer Lucy Allan and Kira Grunenberg have written strong, observational pieces on the late multi-instrumentalist/composer-improviser Don Cherry and Argentine vocalist Roxana Amed, respectively. Both are ambitious writers, who have the ability to convey layers of information and the complex backgrounds and musical intentions of their subjects. They keep themselves out of the writing, never spewing too much of their own tastes and opinion, yet their writers’ voices and affinities for the musicians are stealthily intertwined in every sentence. Continue reading “New & Diverse Voices on Jazz: Peerless trumpeter, Argentine singer by Jennifer Lucy Allan, Kira Grunenberg”

Impulse! releases unheard music from Alice Coltrane


FJR founder, Jordannah Elizabeth’s June 2021 article for New York Amsterdam News

It has been announced that new music from the iconic musician and godmother of spiritual jazz, Alice Coltrane will be released July 16. The album, entitled “Kirtan: Turiya Sings” will feature nine new devotional songs that will share unheard music with Coltrane on voice and organ. There has never been a recording with the artist in this stripped-down musical fashion. Most of Coltrane’s recordings featured her harp and a number of different instruments and musical collaborators such as Carlos Santana and Pharaoh Sanders.

This specific collection of music was recorded in 1981, and though it has never been heard from the masses, the original recordings of these musical offerings were exclusively released on cassette tape for her followers who lived on her ashram (a place of devotional worship and study). In 2004 Alice Coltrane’s son came across mixes of this music that he had never heard before where she is just singing and playing the Wurlitzer organ. Ravi, the producer of “Kirtan: Turiya Sings,” felt that this music needed to be shared with the world. Continue reading “Impulse! releases unheard music from Alice Coltrane”

Lauren Lee’s The Queen of Cups

FJR founder, Jordannah Elizabeth’s May 2021 review for New York City Jazz Record.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, composer Lauren Lee began to rethink and reconstruct songs meant for her trio, gathering freshly composed repertoire and old songs, which manifest on her third album, The Queen of Cups. This solo vocal and piano album consists of half original music and half reimagined standards that stem from Lee’s intricate imagination and distinct compositional style. One of the most enticing components is the esoteric title. This mystical tarot card archetype is that of a being who wades deeply within her emotions and flows in the watery depths of her empathic and caring behavioral projections.

The Queen of Cups sits on a throne reigning alone, which lends insight into the metamorphosis of trio music into a solo effort. Lee performs her sparse pieces, personal lyrics and unique scatting technique with confidence and quietly crisp production. Opener “Cognition” offers rich piano, which rings and sonically glows against voice. Lee does not sing lyrics, but instead creates romantically somber melodies. Continue reading “Lauren Lee’s The Queen of Cups”

Feminist Jazz Journalism, Now! Part 3: Speculative Futures & New Jazz Journalism

FJR founder, Jordannah Elizabeth’s April 2021 essay for Jazz Journalists Association.

The implementation of feminist theory into the art of jazz criticism is a rational and logical step towards broadening the language and perception of jazz.

For far too long, the voices and gatekeepers of the jazz journalistic realm have embodied the overwhelming dominance of straight, white*, Western, traditionalist males whose navigation through the jazz musical community has resulted in the silencing, diminution, commodification, and cultural appropriation of a Black American art form. White men have dominated the jazz criticism field since the genre’s inception.

White male jazz journalists would argue that the tradition they have overtaken (jazz) has celebrated and supported Black jazz musicians, but this is simply not the case. Not enough has been done in the stretch of nearly a century to address the history of racism, sexism and anti-gay sentiments that plagued early jazz criticism (dominated by white men) and directly combatted the validity and power that jazz musicians had attained through sheer artistic expression, talent and musical innovation.

In her paper “The White Reception of Jazz in America,” (African American Review Vol. 38, No. 1, Spring 2004) Maureen Anderson wrote ”From 1917 to 1930 white America was forced to realize that a new form of music, jazz, rising on radio airwaves and appearing in clubs worldwide, was here to stay. At the same time, articles analyzing, judging, appraising, and condemning jazz flooded into publication . . . Motivated by political and racial concerns, many jazz critics during the Harlem Renaissance publicized their dislike of jazz music in order to express their dislike for African Americans.”

She continues, “In striving to analyze and to understand the concepts of jazz music, white critics often hid behind black stereotypes in order to explain the increased fascination the world had with jazz. As magazines first began to recognize jazz, between 1917 and 1920, critics’ principal aim appeared innocently enough to be asking what, exactly, jazz was. Yet, delving deeper into the language of early articles, one soon discovers that the explanations of jazz are also the signs of aggression by white critics . . .” Continue reading “Feminist Jazz Journalism, Now! Part 3: Speculative Futures & New Jazz Journalism”

Feminist Jazz Journalism, Now! Part 2: A solution-based analysis

FJR founder, Jordannah Elizabeth’s March 2021 essay for Jazz Journalists Association.

I’ve previously posed several questions regarding the relevance and presence, or lack thereof, of the feminist voice and women’s lens in jazz criticism. Engaging in an introspective and theoretical discourse with the jazz community and within ourselves as writers is one of the most important activities one can do in order to create a framework for impactful and lasting change.

Nonetheless, it would be irresponsible to leave this conversation floating in a realm of thoughtful ideology, without offering some form of solution-based analysis that would assist in creating concrete opportunities for growth, inclusiveness and advancement. These proposed solutions are nothing more than building blocks for writers, editors, publishers, and thinkers to consider in formation of their own ideas and tactics to create more equality within the jazz criticism community.

Before going on, I have one more question to express: Is it the responsibility of male writers and gatekeepers to lead the change we all seem to agree is needed? Or should it be women writers who organize themselves to create the environment in which we want to work and operate?

I believe the answer is both.

Feminist organizing, as with any movement, takes experience and humane strategies. Not everyone has the background needed to bring marginalized people together to create change, but those that do should utilize the knowledge we have in our community-oriented toolboxes to support those who are willing to learn and contribute. Continue reading “Feminist Jazz Journalism, Now! Part 2: A solution-based analysis”

Feminist Jazz Journalism, Now!


FJR founder, Jordannah Elizabeth’s March 2021 essay for Jazz Journalists Association.

Feminism is a school of thought that vehemently fights for equality within the binary gendered society, along with intersections of race and LGTBQ communities, demanding that justice be served through the uplifting of women. Therefore: Is it a feminist act for a woman to simply attempt to express her voice in an acutely male-dominated jazz criticism community? Or is it only truly feminist when a woman embeds feminist theory into her jazz writing or chooses to solely write about women jazz musicians and composers?

With the overwhelming disparity in the number of women compared to men who grace the pages of traditional jazz publications and mainstream media, many questions yearn to be considered.

If there were more women writing about jazz, would a new collective tone arise over the status quo that male journalists have cultivated throughout the history of jazz criticism and documentation? Will the experience of navigating socio-political environments steeped in sexist cultural standards, deeply engrained societal pressures and emotionally fraught artistic landscapes offer virtually unexplored perceptions and observations that could potentially create a new and fresh voice in jazz journalism? Continue reading “Feminist Jazz Journalism, Now!”