‘The music speaks for itself’: Athenaeum’s Daniel Atkinson spotlights women in jazz with upcoming festival

Local jazz aficionado Daniel Atkinson will host a two-day festival next week called Women in Jazz through his San Diego Jazz Ventures, an organization he started a year ago to bring more jazz to the region.

The mini festival kicks off Friday, June 3 with Artemis, an all-female band comprised of Renee Rosnes, Ingrid Jensen, Anat Cohen, Nicole Glover, Noriko Ueda, and Allison Miller.

Day 2, Saturday, June 4, will feature Grammy-nominated singer Thana Alexa.

Both concerts will take place at the 200-seat Illumina Theater at The Alexandria at Torrey Pines, just east of The Lodge at Torrey Pines.

The musicians of Artemis are “some of the best performers on their instruments, whether male or female, playing today,” said Atkinson, who led the jazz program at La Jolla’s Athenaeum Music & Arts Library for decades. .

Alexa uses loop technology that allows it to “essentially sing along to itself over the tracks it records as it goes,” Atkinson said, resulting in “really compelling and beautifully executed” music.

The genesis of the festival dates back to Atkinson’s participation in a jazz conference in Barcelona, ​​where a presentation on the imbalance between male and female musicians in jazz led him to commit to changing the ratio .

“Historically, jazz has tended to underrepresent women in general and female instrumentalists in particular,” he said. “This is something that needs to be fixed. … It’s important to make the effort and declare that there is no shortage of talent there.

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Daniel Atkinson will present the Women in Jazz festival June 3-4 through his San Diego Jazz Ventures.

(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Atkinson said the talent of the musicians he has invited to the Women in Jazz festival “speaks for itself”.

Rosnes, Artemis’ music director, said the festival opener is a thrill the band, which has never played San Diego as a full band, is looking forward to.

She said the band’s June 3 program will consist of original and classic jazz material. “The vast majority of what we play is original music written by all of us in the band,” she said.

“We just can’t wait to go,” especially after the COVID-19 pandemic halted live performances for a long time, she said. “It’s so refreshing, and we feel the joy on stage and we feel the joy in the energy of the audience.”

She said that none of the group members, who hail from the United States, Canada, Israel and Japan, thought much about the fact that the group was all-female.

“The reason we play together is because we love playing together and we are women,” Rosnes said. “We’d like to get to a point in history where it’s not necessary to mention our gender. We’d like the music to speak for itself.

Singer Thana Alexa will perform on Saturday June 4 at the Women in Jazz festival.

(Courtesy of Thana Alexa)

Alexa, who was born in New York to Croatian parents and raised in the United States and Croatia, says the underrepresentation of female jazz artists is similar to that in other industries.

“There have always been female musicians,” she says. “There have always been women composers, there have always been women instrumentalists, singers, producers, engineers, all those things. … It’s just that we’re trying harder as a society to find them and then intensify their voices and the stories they tell.

To be included in the Atkinson festival is an honor, she said, especially with Artemis, “the leading women of this genre right now.”

Alexa said she was grateful that the festival coincided with her “personal project – my desire to find out who I am as a woman and how that made me feel and how I experienced the world.”

Alexa’s June 4 program, her first performance in San Diego, is based on her album “Ona,” the Croatian word for “her.”

The album is inspired by women’s stories and is dedicated to “women who, from generation to generation and cross culture, have gone through many different types of experiences to get me where I am”, he said. she declared.

Atkinson, a Grammy-nominated producer, said the ultimate goal of San Diego Jazz Ventures was to create a local jazz festival, since there hasn’t been one in San Diego since the mid-1980s.

“We’re definitely too mature for that,” he said.

Women in Jazz Festival

When:

• Artemis, 6 p.m. Friday, June 3

• Thana Alexa, 6 p.m. Saturday, June 4

Where: Illumina Theater, The Alexandria at Torrey Pines, 10996 Torreyana Road

Cost: $50 and up

Information: sdjazzventures.org

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