It's rare for a symphony conductor to be passionate about bringing jazz to young people. But Rachael Worby is a rarity just for being a female conductor. She is artistic director of Mus/ique, a live series that stages music in unlikely settings. True to form, Mus/ique celebrates women jazz musicians Monday at the Avon Distribution Center in Pasadena.
“I want to get the music out of the sacred concert hall space,” Worby asserted, “and bring it closer to the audience. And Avon has always meant empowerment to women.” She sees the company's story as analogous to jazz itself: “When they began, Avon only marketed products for white skin. They expanded over the years to include all shades, just as the male-dominated jazz world has made room for women.”
The centerpiece of the evening is Judy Chaikin's acclaimed new documentary, “The Girls in the Band.” It tells the story of the uphill battle women have had throughout jazz history to gain acceptance from male musicians. She uses the stories of pianists Lil Armstrong, Mary Lou Williams, Marian McPartland and Geri Allen, trumpeters Billie Rogers and Ingrid Jensen, saxophonists Peggy Gilbert, Roz Cron and Jane Ira Bloom, and drummers Terry Lynn Carrington and Sherrie Maricle to piece together a broader narrative of the plight of women in the music.