The Sister Jazz Orchestra of British Columbia in concert on March 11

The Sister Jazz Orchestra, created by Christian Morrison in 2019, is an 18-piece professional ensemble composed entirely of female performers, featuring Vancouver’s most accomplished female musicians.

According to British Columbia Women in Jazz Associationit’s a celebration of mainstream mainstream jazz from a female perspective – the other half of the story.

Morrison, longtime big band manager and co-founder of the West Coast Big Band Festivalfelt that a change was needed when she decided to create the Sister Jazz Orchestra.

Morrison was inspired to start this group when she attended a panel hosted by the Women in Jazz Association (WJA) and heard a variety of successful artists discuss their goals, dreams and the struggles they were facing. confronted.

For Morrison, her goal became immediately clear: to highlight, empower and inspire the female jazz community in the best way she knew how.

“I’m a big band manager,” Morrison says. “It’s my instrument.”

Through sponsorship and an online GoFundMe campaign, Morrison was able to secure funds for rehearsal space, access to music copyrights, and most importantly, enough to fairly compensate his musicians.

Then she moved on to choosing the repertoire and finding staff.

“Every musician I asked to play in the set immediately said yes,” says Morrison.

She is grateful for the support and camaraderie she has seen among players in the jazz community.

Sisters Jazz Orchestra Premiere

The Sister Jazz Orchestra is Canada’s first all-female professional big band, and its importance in the jazz community is not lost on the group’s female players.

“It’s nice to have a band where I don’t feel symbolic,” says tenor saxophonist Jen Davidson. The Sister Jazz Orchestra gave these 18 musicians the chance to play among colleagues who know all too well the experience of being the only woman in the group.

It also gave some musicians the opportunity to work with inspiring leaders in the jazz community.

“It’s just as valuable to the players as it is to the public,” Davidson notes. “I had the opportunity to play with incredible female role models.”

These musicians are also about to inspire a new generation of young musicians.

“This ensemble plays a crucial role in paving the way for young women,” says Jennifer Vance, baritone saxophone. “As a woman who plays a traditionally ‘macho’ instrument in a traditionally ‘macho’ genre, I’ve always found a disconnect between what’s expected of me and what I’m capable of.”

But Vance never allowed those judgments to get in the way of his goals.

“I’m proud that my 12-year-old daughter always thought of me as a musician, not a musician. She knows she can be part of any ensemble her heart desires, without fearing something as insignificant as being a girl. The Sister Jazz Orchestra provides a vehicle for this knowledge.

The Sister Jazz Orchestra performs Friday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the BlueShore Financial Center for the Performing Arts, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver BC

Locally, the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra is working on a comeback plan for 2022. Stay tuned!


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Henry R. Wright