Pianist Renee Rosnes' success is remarkable on many levels. She's one of the few Canadian jazz artists to achieve international acceptance. More important, she's one of the few women instrumentalists to emerge in recent years with her own group and her own albums.
"Yes, I've been pretty fortunate," Rosnes says. "I haven't come face to face with any problems, though I've heard that a lot of women have. Sometimes you have to prove yourself a little more (as a woman). Being white and female, maybe I don't look the part (of a jazz musician), and it might take a little extra to have people take me seriously."
At 29, Rosnes has been taken seriously, as evidenced by the number of top artists who have hired her. Among them: saxophonists Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson. Her ideas are at once complex, melodic in conception and execution. Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Rosnes arrived in New York in 1986 with the help of a grant from the Canadian Council of the Arts. Within a year she joined Henderson's quartet, performing in Europe, the United States and Japan. "She is lyrical beyond her years," Henderson has said. "It's very rare for a musician of her generation to display so much depth."
Since then, she's worked in a wide range of settings, touring with trumpeter Jon Faddis, trombonist J.J. Johnson and saxophonists James Moody, among others, and recording with Faddis, saxophonist Gary Thomas and the New York group O.T.B., of which she's now a member.
Despite the pace, Rosnes has found time to occasionally lead a trio or quartet that includes her husband, drummer Billy Drummond.
She finds leading her own group especially rewarding. "As a leader," she said, "I can appreciate the freedom I need to stretch out and express my own ideas."