Location, Space, and Women In Jazz

Personal Drive


After taking guitar lessons for 10 years, Rose's interest shifted to the stand-up base during her sophomore year in high school. Due to her previous experience with the classical guitar, her transition between the instruments occurred fairly smoothly. After her first solo performance on bass, Rose won an award from her high school. This achievement encouraged her to pursue jazz music even further. During the early 90’s, Rose’s transition from classical music to jazz music proved to be extremely successful. As a senior in high school, Rose made the definitive decision that she was going to move beyond the guitar for good, and was going to concentrate on pursuing bass as a career. Rose decided to pursue jazz music because she enjoyed having the ability to improvise.



Bloom’s family was fortunate enough to afford private lessons for Jane with Harvey Steinberg. Bloom credits Harvey for teaching her how to improvise. While working with Steinberg, she created her own tunes and improvising on the piano. “I began early on improvising and not knowing it. And I had a teacher who would show me what chord changes were and how to write things out.” For Bloom, “learning process went hand in hand improvising and studying written form as well...it was just a part of what I did.” Bloom also learned under Joe Viola while living in Boston at 12 years old. Viola’s love for the soprano saxophone exposed her to the instrument at a very young age. Throughout her childhood, Bloom constantly reached out to local musicians to come together, play, form bands, and teach each other.  In the suburban underground of Boston, Bloom played with friends in their basements, and created local jazz groups. In New Haven, she took advantage of her surroundings and played in clubs and also put on concerts of original music while at Yale. Bloom decided to focus on the soprano saxophone while working with Joe Viola at 12 years old. Viola’s passion was the soprano saxophone and Bloom quickly became interested in the instrument.



She had an innate ability to compose and write her own music. A key to this success is greatly due to her minimal amount of a strict education in music. She says, “ The funny thing about not knowing anything too much and not having many teachers was that I didn’t know what was hard, or I didn’t think too much, it was just something I really liked to do. It was the feeling of music that was incredible.” The capacity for her to be self taught, with no prior musical instruction or lesson is that in itself is genius. Her intellectual and auditory skills are unparalleled. The idea that music was a different world for her, really allowed her to carry out this innate ability. Brackeen is a Pioneer. Her independence and confidence has enabled her to be a leader of her own musical groups as well as construct “ a library of more than three hundred of her original works.” (Joanne Brackeen Jazz) Not enough words can elude to the talent of the woman. Currently serving as a professor a Berklee college of music, she is sharing and teaching her talent. ( Joanne Brackeen Jazz) Her talent has been greatly honored, as she has received almost every major award available for Jazz Musicains:” he received two grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, as well as State Department sponsorship for a mid-80s tour of the Middle East and Europe. She was included in the Ken Burns TV documentary "Jazz," as well as Robert L. Doerschuk's "88 Giants of Jazz Piano" (Huiksi, 2001). She has received a Berklee Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Education," an IAJE "Outstanding Educator" Award, the "Living Legend Award" from IWJ (International Women In Jazz), and the ABI award for "Woman of the Year 2001." She twice served on the NEA Grant panel and has adjudicated for Chamber Music America, as well as the Jacksonville and Dewars' Piano Competitions.”



Most of Redd’s early musical instruction came from her church and from her great aunt, Alma Hightower. Ms. Hightower taught her how to play the piano and the saxophone and she formed her own singing voice through singing at church. She was given flute lessons in college but ended up stopping them in order to focus again on her sax. Redd came from a family of great musicians, perhaps pointing to her talent being genetic and thus innate. She did however, perform with such jazz greats as Count Basie, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, and Earl Hines who helped her improve her musicality and exposed her to further influences in the jazz world. Redd was deeply influenced by Charlie Parker early in her life even before she picked her ultimate instrument of choice. Through her aunt’s offer to teach her how to play the horn, she was able to fully realize the saxophone was where she would maintain interest. Around 1948, she formed a band with her first husband, trumpeter Nathaniel Meeks. She played the saxophone and sang, and began performing professionally. Although she performed with such jazz greats as Count Basie, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, and Earl Hines, she is rarely discussed in jazz history books except for those focusing specifically on female jazz musicians.