Changing the Tune: The Kansas City Women’s Jazz Festival, 1978-1985

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Even though the potential passage of the Equal Rights Amendment had cracked glass ceilings across the country, in 1978 jazz remained a boys’ club. Two Kansas City women, Carol Comer and Dianne Gregg, challenged that inequitable standard. With the support of jazz luminaries Marian McPartland and Leonard Feather, inaugural performances by Betty Carter, Mary Lou Williams, an unprecedented All-Star band of women, Toshiko Akiyoshi’s band, plus dozens of Kansas City musicians and volunteers, a casual conversation between two friends evolved into the annual Kansas City Women’s Jazz Festival (WJF). But with success came controversy. Anxious to satisfy fans of all ... continued below

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ix, 308 p. : ill.

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Brewer, Carolyn Glenn March 2017.

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  • Brewer, Carolyn Glenn CAROLYN GLENN BREWER is a longtime music educator who has written for Jam Magazine and published two books on the 1957 tornado in Ruskin Heights, Missouri. She has played clarinet in bands, chamber groups, and orchestras throughout the Kansas City area. She lives in Kansas City.

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  • Brewer, Carolyn Glenn

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Even though the potential passage of the Equal Rights Amendment had cracked glass ceilings across the country, in 1978 jazz remained a boys’ club. Two Kansas City women, Carol Comer and Dianne Gregg, challenged that inequitable standard. With the support of jazz luminaries Marian McPartland and Leonard Feather, inaugural performances by Betty Carter, Mary Lou Williams, an unprecedented All-Star band of women, Toshiko Akiyoshi’s band, plus dozens of Kansas City musicians and volunteers, a casual conversation between two friends evolved into the annual Kansas City Women’s Jazz Festival (WJF).
But with success came controversy. Anxious to satisfy fans of all jazz styles, WJF alienated some purists. The inclusion of male sidemen brought on protests. The egos of established, seasoned players unexpectedly clashed with those of newcomers. Undaunted, Comer, Gregg, and WJF’s ensemble of supporters continued the cause for eight years. They fought for equality not with speeches but with swing, without protest signs but with bebop.
For the first book about this groundbreaking festival, Carolyn Glenn Brewer interviewed dozens of people and dove deeply into the archives. This book is an important testament to the ability of two friends to emphatically prove jazz genderless, thereby changing the course of jazz history. The Contents include: Crazy little women -- Everything's up to date in Kansas City -- Now's the time -- A beautiful friendship -- The first year, March 17-19, 1978 -- Summertime -- There's no business like show business -- Sweet Georgia Brown -- This could be the start of something big -- Spring can really hang you up the most -- Spring is here -- The second year, March 23-25, 1979 -- All of me -- Work song -- Blues Melba -- The more I see you -- You and the night and the music -- The third year, March 20-23, 1980 -- All the things you are -- Swing is the thing -- Confirmation -- Come fly with me -- Come Sunday -- The fourth year, March 25-29, 1981 -- Stories to tell -- The best is yet to come -- Time after time -- Dr. Jive -- The fifth year, March 24-28, 1982 -- But not for me -- At last -- Close enough for love -- I'm hip -- I get a kick out of you -- Guess who I saw today -- All alone -- The sixth year, March 23-27, 1983 -- Time and time again -- The beat goes on -- Teach me tonight -- Tea for two -- Straight no chaser -- More than you know -- Thanks for the boogie ride -- Every time we say goodbye -- I've got you under my skin -- Let's call the whole thing off.

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ix, 308 p. : ill.

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  • March 2017

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Oct. 14, 2017, 9:21 p.m.

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  • July 20, 2018, 2:54 p.m.

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Brewer, Carolyn Glenn. Changing the Tune: The Kansas City Women’s Jazz Festival, 1978-1985, book, March 2017; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1020988/: accessed September 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.