Fighting for Women's Equality

We Came Together for Sisterhood, Sushi, and Swing

November 10, 2015 | by

Equal Rights Advocates’ supporters and jazz fans gathered at Yoshi’s jazz club in October to celebrate women in music and ERA’s work breaking down barriers for women and girls. Friends reunited, feminists rallied, and the wine flowed.

The eveyoshisnt featured an incredible performance by the Montclair Women’s Big Band, led by ERA client Ellen Seeling, who, along with Sara Sanderson, has worked with ERA to develop a non-profit organization dedicated to improving opportunities and equity for women in jazz, called Jazz Women and Girls Advocates. ERA has partnered with the group and co-counsel to demand job postings and blind auditions at Jazz at Lincoln Center. While other musical institutions across the country – like professional classical orchestras – have implemented such hiring policies to increase the number of professional women players, jazz lags far behind. To date, Jazz at Lincoln Center has never had a permanent woman member.

We were proud to honor Ellen and her fellow women jazz musicians at Yoshi’s.

The celebration’s musical programming started with a surprise guest performance by an inspiring combo from the Berkeley High Jazz. BHS Jazz director Sarah Cline on trombone led the talented group through a delightful presentation of some beautifully complex tunes including: Bag’s Groove, Oleo and Afro Blue. These young musicians wowed the crowd with their incredible skill and spirit.

ellen yoshis

When the Montclair Women’s Big Band came to the stage, their full sounds and tight arrangements had toes tapping and heads nodding in no time. Their impressive and expansive roster for the evening included group co-founder Ellen Seeling on trumpet and the fabulous Jean Fineberg on tenor sax. The evening’s main event opened with swing standard Benny Goodman’s Tattletale and the more modern Jody Grind by Horace Silver. Joe Henderson’s Recorda-Me gave way to an inventive re-imagining of the gentle crowd pleaser Over the Rainbow. The sweet sounds of I Can’t Stop Loving You led into the smooth riffs of Sugar, followed by a tune called Yuri and an original piece by Jean Fineburg, Partly Sonny. The show rounded out with River’s Invitation to great applause and reluctant goodbyes.

The evening was rounded out with comments by ERA’s Executive Director Noreen Farrell, who noreen yoshishighlighted ERA’s long history of opening industries to women. The night’s celebrations were especially fitting, as earlier that day Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill sponsored by ERA, the California Fair Pay Act, which will be the strongest equal pay law in the country.

If you’d like to join ERA at the next big night out, it’s easy – join our mailing list and we’ll send you invites to future events.

To learn more about ERA client Ellen Seeling, click here.

See you next time!

ERA volunteer Krys Burgess contributed to this post.

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