Les Victoires du jazz are a French annual awards ceremony devoted to Jazz. For the 2017 edition, which took place last month, all the winners were men. Joëlle Léandre, the great French musician, who played around the world with many of the great musicians of jazz and free improvisation, and who coached many young artists, reacts to this all-male podium ... with anger and in her own authentic style. We publish her letter in full, translated from the original French version.
No it's not too late or too old yet to write to you
It is true that with social networks everything goes so fast
I could also say that everything is also quickly forgotten
So then, because of that evening, without joking and totally despirited
I refuse to shut up to let bygones be bygones
I accuse and I take sole responsibility to write about it
because too much is too much.
It is a farce (Daniel, a producer, will recognise this)
All these Awards these Prizes these "Victoires du Jazz" or rather the "Defeat of Jazz"
(Joël, a jazz fanzine editor, will recognise this) shock me and make me think.
I'm sorry about the results and I'm sorry about the looks of these 15 penguins united on stage and smiling about their great talents,
I know several of them, and I have even performed with some
All this makes me question things
How is it possible that there is not one single woman
young or less young in the list of winners of 2017?
Is this a provocation? Is it a game?
Is it a I-don't-give-a-damn or I-couldn't-care-less?
What kind of jury was there?
Are the labels the agents behind all this?
How is it possible that in the 21st Century again and again not one single woman was nominated?
What is this charade? What is this masquerade?
What is this archaism these dusty parlors with powdered wigs?
Jazz did not stop in 1950.
Some of us propose provoke shock and make waves and we question ourselves we question forms or structures instruments rhythms and timbres ... and even more than all that we question.
Jazz has always been about risky and adventurous meetings. What is this kind of mess to see and read these results?
Do you not think that a woman can think, reflect, compose, create projects, lead bands ... hit the road and present her music everywhere?
What planet do you live on?
How do you want a young woman leaving the music academy with or without a degree, wonderfully playing her clarinet her sax her piano, to feel that she can take this adventure further, this curiosity for elsewhere, and to be attracted by another kind of music, more free and more creative and
To be attracted by Jazz (because Jazz has always been a creative music, as for the rest, I won't expand on it ... even if I could)
In short, to love this Music and then to see to read again and again your male results!!
You are totally indifferent to the world. It is shameful.
I told you I would take the risk on me to write to you. Well, I do.
You should do the opposite. Get out of your seats and go listen to female musicians, listen and be curious. Instead of remaining stuck in your ancient views, and congregating in a self-congratulatory atmosphere.
All these little friends. All this little power.
Yes, I am angry. I am 66 years old and on the road for 41 years, around the globe, with my dear friends, male and female, creating, inventing my Music, ... crying even, shouting ...
Do you think that I called Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, George Lewis or Marilyn Crispell or many others to Europe ... or even younger people ... and that we play Mozart or Monteverdi together?
Stop this! It is all about desire this, to be, to be
Oneself, to create collectively, men and women, women and men
That is the history of Jazz.
Today, with women too. Don't forget it!!
Don't ever forget them again!!
They are brilliant, strong, disturbing, full of talent, full of surprises.
Sometimes laughing, sometimes hard workers.
A word to the wise. My word to the wise.