Review by Darren Harper
1st November 2019
Being quite familiar with Sammy Stein’s work, across numerous publications, I had high hopes for her latest book, Women In Jazz. I was not disappointed.
There are countless books out there on the wider subject of Jazz music and, in my own experience, they are often not the easiest of reads, leaving me with the impression that authors are more interested in showcasing their own extensive, technical knowledge of the music, than engaging the reader in the story they are trying to tell.
In this instance, the reader is left in no doubt of Sammy’s knowledge and authority on the subject, yet she manages to tackle a challenging topic in a direct, passionate and sincere, yet easily digestible way.
The sheer volume and status of the people who have given up their time to help Sammy, both women and men, is testament to the respect Sammy has earned across the industry and the trust people have in her to relay their stories faithfully.
It would be very easy to have made a book such as this a very uncomfortable read for a man. However, Sammy expertly manages to highlight the very real matters at hand, whilst making it an inclusive issue in which we all need to work together for things to improve.
If there is any doubt as to how far we still have to go in the struggle for equality in jazz, you only need to read the quote from Trish Clowes, “I count myself very fortunate that I have never been physically intimidated or assaulted by anyone”.
A community in which women feel “fortunate” not to be assaulted by men is a community with which none of us should be content.
I would recommend this book to anybody, but especially those working in the music industry. I believe jazz history will view this book as a very important point in the journey towards a better place.