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.