A few weeks ago, at the Hyatt on Sunset in West Hollywood, Ann Patterson's Maiden Voyage orchestra played to a crowded and enthusiastic roomful of music lovers. The ensemble spirit, the compositions and the soloists all represented big-band jazz at its highest contemporary level.
What the audience didn't know was that none of the members can make a living simply out of working in this exceptional ensemble. Acclaimed by viewers and reviewers at the Monterey, Playboy and Concord jazz festivals, playing every kind of job from a shopping mall opening to a Korean variety show, Maiden Voyage is still not a regularly working band. Sometimes they do not perform as a unit for weeks on end.
In fact, what has happened to the 18-woman orchestra, and particularly to the leader, during the six years since Patterson assumed leadership, symbolizes both the problems that face women musicians and the advances that they have finally made.
The Texas-born Patterson, who has mastered a dozen instruments--saxophones, clarinets, flutes, oboe, English horn--and is qualified to play them in the most demanding of settings, feels that the perennial discrimination against women is breaking down. Sexism still exists, of course, but less rampantly.
FOR THE RECORD - IMPERFECTIONS
Los Angeles Times Sunday June 22, 1986 Home Edition Calendar Page 123 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
In his rundown of the personnel in Maiden Voyage last week Leonard Feather left out the name of bass player Maryanne McSweeney, notes Hollywood's aptly named Bob Bassline, who credits McSweeney with giving the all-female orchestra its swing.
"I'm certainly getting more and better work than I was five or six years ago," she says. "Last winter, I played about seven woodwind instruments for three months in a show at the Mark Taper Forum. It was an avant-garde musical and we improvised a lot--very stimulating. I still do a fair amount of studio work, though that's certainly no living in itself--but it isn't for most male players either. Then there are what we call casuals--weddings, bar mitzvahs, dinner dances, fund-raisers; I get to play a lot of those. Even Maiden Voyage itself does some."
In a horn-by-horn rundown of the other members' activities, Patterson pointed up how varied are the opportunities and achievements:
"The trumpets--well, Louise Baranger, our lead trumpeter, works mainly with the Harry James band and free-lances around Los Angeles. Marissa Pasquale, who's a recent graduate of USC, works quite a bit with groups at Disneyland, where for a long time they hired no women musicians; she also has a day job. So does Stacy Rowles, but Stacy is now working with the all-female group Alive! and plays jobs fairly often with her father (pianist Jimmy Rowles); in fact, next month they're doing the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland and then the Hollywood Bowl with Woody Herman. Jodi Gladstone does casuals, teaches music in a private school and plays in a Latin band. Ann King manages to play music for a living: she's worked with Roger Neumann and some of the other good bands around L.A.
"The trombones: Betty O'Hara is now very active in TV--she works in the orchestra for 'Hill Street Blues,' 'The A-Team' and other shows, as well as playing jazz-group jobs. Betty has the luxury of turning down casuals, which I think is wonderful! (O'Hara, the band's senior member, has had a 40-year career, playing everything from fluegelhorn to double-bell euphonium.) Christy Belicki just graduated from USC; she has done some work at Disneyland too. Martha Schumann, who's a recent addition to our band, is still a student at Cal State Long Beach. Jackie Wollinger plays bass trombone, an instrument that's not much in demand; still, she works in a few bands locally and has a day gig.
"The saxes aren't doing badly. Kathryn Moses, who came here from Canada, is also a wonderful classical flutist and bassoonist; she was very busy in Toronto, and in L.A. she's getting established doing all kinds of work--casuals, studio jobs, especially on flute. Jennifer Hall, who plays alto with us, is a graduate student in classical saxophone at USC, just got her master's degree, and has a part-time day job at a woodwind repair shop. Cathy Cochran does gigs here and there, but not enough to be self-supporting, so she's been waitressing. Barbara Watts, our baritone sax player, is fairly busy mainly as a music copyist, for TV shows."
Completing the band is the rhythm section. Patterson's exceptional drummer, Jeannette Wrate, finds work on the women's music circuit (that is, with female groups that play folk or pop music with feminist lyrics) in addition to playing in the studios and teaching private students. The percussionist, Judy Chilnick, also is busy, dividing her time between shows, classical and pop studio work and concerts with the New American Orchestra. Liz Kinnon, the band's current pianist, who makes part of her livelihood composing and arranging, has managed to enter the lucrative jingle field.