Women’s History Month Profile: Megumi Kanda

March feature! Each week I will profile a different woman or women in music who are particular heroes or inspiration for me.

This week, please welcome to the stage



I wanted to be like those women, strong but elegant, and to make a path for other girl trombonists.

Tokyo native Megumi Kanda is one of the few women in the United States (or the world, for that matter!) to hold a trombone position in a major orchestra. She stole the scene at Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in 2002, winning the audition so resolutely the committee bypassed the trial period generally reserved for new musicians.

She began playing trombone at the age of 10 in Japan and moved to the United States to study at Cleveland Institute of Music with James DeSano. Prior to winning her MSO gig she played with the Rochester and Albany orchestras.

Most recently composer Amy Riebs Mills wrote a piece for her called “Red Dragonfly”, using thematic elements from one of Ms Kanda’s favorite Japanese songs. She premiered the work in 2013 at the International Trombone Festival in Columbus, Georgia.

She’s also performed as soloist in front of her own orchestra, and more information on that and her work so far can be found here: http://www.jsonline.com/entertainment/arts/113082274.htmlmegum

Women’s History Month Profile: Melba Liston

March feature! Each week I will profile a different woman or women in music who are particular heroes or inspiration for me.

This week is someone new to me but immediately important. Please welcome to the stage



When I saw the trombone I thought how beautiful it looked and knew I just had to have one. No one told me that it was difficult to master. All I knew was that it was pretty and I wanted one.

Jazz trombonist, arranger, composer, and band leader, Melba Liston toured with Billie Holiday, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, and John Lewis. She began playing trombone around the age of 8, and was largely self-taught. At 16 she started her professional career at the Lincoln Theatre in Los Angeles, and by her 20s was on the road with some of the biggest jazz performers of her day. Her career spanned 40 years, encompassing her own studio album, Melba Liston and Her ‘Bones, writing and arranging for Quincy Jones, teaching music in Los Angeles and Jamaica, and even a short stint as an actress in Hollywood.

A good deal more information about the life and career of this amazing, unsung woman from jazz history can be found here: http://www.randyweston.info/randy-weston-sidemen-pages/melba-liston.html

You can find her album on iTunes and GooglePlay, and listen to tracks on YouTube. Here’s “Blues Melba” featuring the true first lady of the slide trombone, Melba Liston.

BrassChix 2015

My dear friend Sarah Schmalenberger, who teaches horn at the University of St Thomas, is again putting on her yearly seminar for women and girls who play brass instruments. This year she’s doing things a little differently, partnering with the fine folks at Schmitt Music to do an equipment and technology day.

Check it out, it’s an awesome day of inspiring performances, networking, and above all, camaraderie for ladies who kick brass. 🙂

Brass Chix 2015