Vast knowledge; boundless, focused energy and talent; generosity of spirit; cheerful and outgoing personality, and can-do attitude which benefits all whose lives she has touched, Monika Herzig is our Jazz Hero.
The Jazz Journalists Association, 2015
Since the release of our second recording in March 2018, Sheroes have accumulated a host of accolades, made numerous year-end listings and recently embarked on a major tour of Egypt and Europe. Come along on the journey – here are some of the highlights and impressions.
Initially we gathered at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City for a performance and screening of Kay D. Ray’s new documentary “In Her Hands”. Kay accompanied us on a previous tour and captured the music, the interaction with audiences, the lingering obstacles of contemporary female jazz instrumentalists, as well as the recording of our second album. The film is now in the screening stage and we hope to share it for a Fall Tour this year. Enjoy more info and a trailer here.
The following day we all boarded a flight to Cairo with much excitement and anticipation as none of us had visited Egypt before. Karina was able to capture our first impressions of Egypt in this video.
The Jazz Tales Festival with support by the US Embassy in Cairo had invited us to close the festival with a workshop day and concerts in Cairo and Alexandria. Our task was to collaborate with Egyptian’s popular singer/songwriter Youssra El Hawary by learning one of her pieces and teaching her group something from our repertoire. She had risen to popularity with her song El Soor (The Wall) in 2012 and has been touring extensively since then, including an appearance at Washington’s Kennedy Center. We arranged her hit song together for the combined large ensemble and everyone got a solo on Carla Bley’s funky tune “Egyptian”. Then we opened the workshop to the public for an improvisation clinic. About 20 participants brought ouds, guitars, violas, various percussion instruments, and of course their voices. Duke Ellington’s “C-Jam Blues” became the common denominator to discuss improv concepts and bring everyone together in a big jam session. The universality of the art form jazz transcended cultural and language differences as participants took turns taking solos and listening/ supporting each other. Here is a glimpse into the rehearsals and workshops of the day.
The final highlight of the day was a visit to the Egyptian Museum that houses the artifacts and treasures retrieved from the pyramids and ancient dynasties. Enjoy these pictures!
Before our sound check and evening concert in Cairo we managed to visit the Pyramids and the Sphinx – one of the seven world wonders. Thanks to our gracious host and guide, IU alumn Jack Montgomery, who traveled from Kuawait to meet us and help us navigate the language and culture.
The 700-seat hall in Cairo was completely filled and our music and collaborations were greeted with much enthusiasm that evening. Our hostess treated us to a traditional feast after the concert with many new tastes and flavors – here is a taste.
For our last day we traveled three hours to Alexandria, a gorgeous Mediterranean city. We all vowed to come back and actually get to experience it as we barely had time to check in and perform our final concert. I should also mention the Egyptian driving culture that includes extensive use of the horn, fluid formation of lanes, and seemingly random traffic rules for right of way and crossing the streets.
Our journey continued to Frankfurt, where we met up with my husband Peter and rented a large van to navigate our travels through Germany. The Frauenmusikbüro Melodiva and the Frankfurt Musikwerkstatt had invited us to host the very first Jazz Girls Day in Germany. About 20 girls ages 12-20 gathered by noon with their instruments, curious about what to expect. During the initial sharing session, it became apparent that many had little prior experience with jazz but were eager to experiment and learn. After an improv clinic, we formed two combos and a vocal ensemble who each learned a tune together – here is Leni’s vocal ensemble. Many new friendships were formed and the organizers pledged to continue the Jazz Girls Day tradition for years to come – a historical encounter!
As we entered the two-week Easter vacation in Germany, our performances focused on the regional clubs rather than educational activities. We had the great honor to perform in some of the legendary venues including München’s Unterfahrt, Dresden’s Tonne, Wien’s Porgy & Bess, Karlsruhe’s Hemingway as well as participated in the Theaterhaus Stuttgart Jazztage, the Women in Jazz Festival in Halle and the largest European jazz gathering at Bremen’s Jazz Ahead. And best of all we got to spend Easter day with my German family for a big Easter Brunch and an afternoon excursion to the Bodensee.
I’m eternally grateful to my band mates, who shared their musical gifts at the highest level every night no matter how long and stressful the travel days were often with little sleep and long car and bus rides. This band has a very special musical and personal bond, I can’t wait to record the next project and travel to many more places together.
The new documentary by award-winning filmmaker Kay D. Ray is making the screening rounds and we’re excited to have two showings with music and discussions in Indiana. Below is the description for this very timely and important account of the barriers that female instrumentalists in jazz are facing. The first screening will be in Evansville, Sunday, March 3, 2:30pm at the Bokeh Lounge combined with music by Monika Herzig with special guests Destiny Muhammad and Karina Colis. The second screening is Wednesday, March 6, 11:15 at Indiana University in SPEA 272 followed by a catered panel discussion at 12:30pm in the SPEA Atrium. And the filmmaker will be in attendance in person for both screenings.
About Kay D. Ray: Returning to Seattle from film and video work in Vancouver, B. C. and Los Angeles, producer and director Kay D. Ray worked with Microsoft Studios for four years and was the senior film producer for Experience Music Project where she developed and created over 85 films and directed numerous interviews.
In Her Hands explores women’s visions and how they are taking it in their own hands to make the needed changes to get equality in the Jazz world today. Enjoy the trailer –
fighting for blind auditions. They are pursuing their music passion no
matter what the obstacles and pushing for performance and recording
opportunities. They are providing positive role models and nurturing
young women musicians. They are encouraging women to become involved in
performance and composition.
Join Monika Herzig’s group Sheroes, on their second tour as they introduce issues facing women jazz today. With concert footage and interviews from Sheroes and
women musicians around the US, from New York to Louisville, Seattle to
the Bay Area, women around the country are making sure women and young
girl musicians have the opportunities in the field of jazz Interviews
with Anat Cohen, Grace Kelly, Ingrid Jensen, Naomi Moon Seigel, Seattle
Women’s Jazz Orchestra, Marge Rosen, Montclair Women’s Big Band, Ellen
Seeling, Jean Fineberg, DIVA, and Sherrie Maricle.
“Music has no gender.” – Anat Cohen
“There really weren’t female role models when I first started the saxophone.” – Grace Kelly
“There’s no school that I can think of right now that is nailing this.” – Ingrid Jensen
“We need education that reaches all of our women, all of our students.” – Sarah Cline
The 10th Annual Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference took place January 9-12 in Reno, NV this year. As a board member for six years and current head of the Research Committee, I’ve been at all gatherings and it’s a joy to see the organization grow and increase programming and impact every year. Most of all, this is as former president Caleb Chapman calls it “the jazz party of the year”. It’s a great reunion with friends and colleagues from all over the world – time to exchange news, perform together and listen to each other’s groups, learn from the clinics and research sessions, and find the newest publications and instruments in the exhibit hall. And most of all, thousands of music students from all over the world perform, listen, and jam the night away. Here are some of my favorite moments from this year’s conference.
On Wednesday evening at the JENeral Session scholarships and awards were given to deserving students and educators. And in celebration of the 10th Anniversary an especially commissioned piece by Greg Yasinitsky was premiered with the JEN All Stars – it was an honor to hold down the piano chair in the group – here is the video.
On Thursday, I was able to program a full day of inspiring research presentations. Scholars shared their findings on music, teaching, history, psychology, and so much more. We are launching JAZZ Jazz Education in Research and Practice this year, a new journal where many of these fascinating projects will be published. Here is more info about the journal and here is a video impression of the research poster sessions on Friday.
The first edition of the Sisters in Jazz, selected by auditions for this JEN conference, showcased their talents and camaraderie – it’s exciting to see this very special program back in action. Here is a video from the concert.
And we screened Kay D. Ray’s new documentary “In Her Hands: Key Changes in Jazz” – centered around the tour and recording of Sheroes with commentary and thoughts by leaders such as Grace Kelly, Ingrid Jensen, Anat Cohen, Ellen Seeling, and many more – well done!
And of course on Saturday, the Sheroes got to perform – this edition included Jamie Baum on flute, Roxy Coss on tenor sax, Leigh Pilzer on bari sax, Natalie Boeyink on bass, and Karina Colis on drums – enjoy the House of the Rising Sun!
It’s impossible to even scratch the surface of all the exciting events. Of course what was especially heart-warming for me was a notable increase in female participation throughout the conference from the Sisters in Jazz, the Three Divas, Chica Power from Jazz House Kids, to Seattle Jazz Girls, and many, many leaders. And the hang!!!
It’s the night of Winter Solstice 2018 – a good time to reflect on a year nearly gone and a new year ready to bring new adventures. Come on a journey with me – and please share yours also: read more…
It was July 2008, in the middle of summer, when we went into the studio to record a collection of songs with a winter and holiday theme. My mission for this album was to create a sense of global unity, peace, and companionship. Most cultures and communities celebrate the middle of Winter in order to brighten up the darkest days of the year, to prepare for a new year, to gather with friends and families. Peace on Earth was the theme of my collection – and its become a yearly celebration, get ready for the December 13, 2018 edition, our 10th anniversary. Read on for a taste of what to expect and mark the calendars. read more…