Multimedia installation across Midtown highlights women composers in jazz

The 13-part series features a wide range of women composers representing different sounds, from bebop to the blues.

a woman plays a piano in the WDET studio

Patrice Rushen performs an original composition live in the WDET studio.

For the next six weeks, jazz fans can experience live performances from some of the best musicians in the business.

The Carr Center and Midtown Detroit Inc. will present  “New Standards, part one of Shifting The Narrative: Jazz and Gender Justice” on Friday, Oct. 14.

Poster courtesy of the Carr Center.

The 13-part series features a wide range of women composers representing different sounds, from bebop to the blues.

Live performances will take place across Midtown in venues like the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Historical Museum and the Detroit Public Library, just to name a few.

Scheduled performers include Andy Milne, Camille Thurman and Grammy Award-winning drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.

Carrington is an NEA Jazz Master and the Carr Center Artistic Director. She has become one of the giants of today’s jazz scene and continues to push the genre to the forefront.

She joined CultureShift to talk about her involvement in the series. She says she hopes the event will bring recognition to Black women in the industry, whose accomplishments often go overlooked.

“We have been at the center of cultural movements, of political movements, of social movements, of social justice movements. So we’re highlighting that.”

“Get on with the work a step at a time.” — Patrice Rushen, recording artist and composer.

Also in the WDET studio was Oliver Ragsdale, the Executive Director of the Carr Center.

“It seems that I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by incredible women — Black women — who have just really helped to raise the profile, the artistic excellence, the commitment of the Carr Center, to this work,” Ragsdale shared. “And what we’re finding is, there’s not a lot of people who who are doing it. So the installation is very important.”

During the conversation, we got a sonic sneak peek of the series from the brilliant keyboardist, composer, arranger and recording artist, Patrice Rushen. She performed an improvisational original piece on the piano, saying she planned to “just start playing” and see where the melody took her.

Rushen was commissioned to compose a new work for the series that will be performed by The Gathering Orchestra Nonet, under the direction of Carr Center Resident Artist, Rodney Whitaker.

When asked if she had any advice for young women of color who are interested in composing, Rushen said simply, “Calm down.”

“We’re so busy wanting to be the one that does it all, without realizing that, 1) You don’t do anything alone, and 2) It takes time. So get on with the work a step at a time.”

“New Standards” is part of the continuing celebration of The Carr Center’s 30th Anniversary, and will run through Nov. 27.

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  • Tia Graham
    Tia Graham is a reporter and Weekend Edition Host for 101.9 WDET. She graduated from Michigan State University where she had the unique privilege of covering former President Barack Obama and his trip to Lansing in 2014.
  • Sophia Jozwiak
    Sophia Jozwiak is the Digital Content and Communities Assistant for 101.9 WDET.