Renee Rosnes is an internationally acclaimed jazz pianist, recording albums with people like Tony Bennett, Rene Fleming and Joe Henderson — but she is still fighting a perception that female jazz musicians are a novelty act.
"It has changed a lot over the last 30 or 40 years and there certainly are a lot more women who are excellent musicians on the scene today," Rosnes told host Margaret Gallagher on CBC's Hot Air.
"Whether or not people are aware of them is another story."
Rosnes is musical director — and pianist — of Artemis, an all-female jazz supergroup filled with veteran musicians: bassist Noriko Ueda, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, clarinetist Anat Cohen, drummer Allison Miller, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant.
The group came together when a French promoter helped put the band together for International Women's Day in 2016, although the group initially included Terri Lyne Carrington on drums and Linda Oh on bass.
After two concerts, the group did a European tour in 2017 with Miller and Ueda, which was a great success.
"We really felt that we had a beautiful chemistry together," Rosnes said. "We decided at the end of that tour, let's make this official and let's let's keep playing together."
And so, Artemis was born.
Listen to Artemis's Big Top:
The name Artemis refers to the Greek goddess of the hunt, an explorer of the forest and the protector of children. Rosnes says the band embodies her "powerful traits."
This month marks the release of the band's debut album, which Rosnes describes as a "labour of love."
One of the tracks, Big Top, also composed by Rosnes, is a play on the idea of the circus and female jazz musicians as a novelty act.
"So I thought, let me take that stereotype and try and re-purpose it and maybe perhaps rob it of its power," she said.
Ultimately, she says, the music stands for itself.
"There comes a day when you see an all-woman band on stage and it's no different than seeing an all-male band, in that their gender doesn't need to be spoken about. The music is the bottom line."
Listen to episodes of Hot Air here.