Jazzwomen: music, sound, gender, and sexuality

Jayne Caudwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper offers a feminist contribution to the critical exploration of jazz histories. It demonstrates the ways jazzwomen have been and continue to be excluded from the practices and processes that form dominant jazz culture in the UK and USA. I show how jamming and improvisation as well as producing sound(s) in leisure places and spaces function to reproduce male entitlement to jazz. In addition to this historical excavation, I draw from two semi-structured interviews with professional white women tenor saxophonists. The arguments I pursue concern the openings and closings for women in jazz and the physical and temporal leisure (and work) spaces that players have entered and occupied. It appears that the production of jazz sounds, which themselves have various currencies in wider society, are significant to how women have been and continue to be recognized as jazz musicians. Specifically, I argue that a gendered critique of the social construction of sound is important to feminist analyses of music and leisure. Women did contribute to the early formation of jazz genre: for instance, women singing the blues crafted a sensory mode of expression that was rich and deep in gendered meaning. However, women instrumentalists, especially ‘horn’ players (saxophones, trumpets, and trombone) often go unheard, and unknown. They have been made invisible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-403
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of Leisure Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2012


  • music
  • women
  • jazz
  • gender
  • sexuality
  • social construction


Dive into the research topics of 'Jazzwomen: music, sound, gender, and sexuality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this