In The Wake of International Jazz Day

April 29th is National Dance Day in the US. It’s one of my favorite not-quite-official holidays; I spend time stretching and honoring what my body is capable of, I move in ways that make me happy, and I usually forget to post on Instagram until several days later. It’s an opportunity to honor dance’s lifelong role in my existence, wellbeing, and humanity, and I try to mark it every year.

April 30th is International Jazz Day. It’s one of my least favorite not-quite-official holidays; while there’s something important to be said for honoring the artists of color who pioneered and radically expanded the genre, it mostly reminds me how most of the jazz musicians I know personally are white. Moreover, the purported celebration often reminds me how much I and others don’t fit in the community.

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Musicians are People, Too: A Smart Dude’s Guide to Improving the Jazz Scene

Most musicians will tell you that plenty of us need to work on our people skills. (Kind of funny, since our lives revolve around networking.) We like being on stage, but we aren’t always good at subtlety or tact or comforting or the things that remind your friends that you’re a pretty okay human. As a result, most music schools feature a crop of nineteen-year-olds who make jokes about women (and men) that are tasteless at best and downright offensive at worst. This happens a lot in the jazz world; lots of guys just don’t put a filter between their brains and mouths. And somehow that’s okay, because the jazz stereotype is that you’re supposed to be your raw, unfiltered self, and everyone else is supposed to think that’s the greatest thing since the iPhone.

More than a couple well-meaning jazz people have danced around the question of how to make women feel more included. I’d like to introduce my suggestions on how to not only invite women into the space but improve the interpersonal relationships in our scene as a whole:

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