Sheroes April 2019 Tour Diary

 Since the release of our second recording in March 2018, Sheroes have accumulated a host of accolades, made numerous year-end listings and recently embarked on a major tour of Egypt and Europe. Come along on the journey  – here are some of the highlights and impressions.

 Initially we gathered at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City for a performance and screening of Kay D. Ray’s new documentary “In Her Hands”. Kay accompanied us on a previous tour and captured the music, the interaction with audiences, the lingering obstacles of contemporary female jazz instrumentalists, as well as the recording of our second album. The film is now in the screening stage and we hope to share it for a Fall Tour this year. Enjoy more info and a trailer here. 

 The following day we all boarded a flight to Cairo with much excitement and anticipation as none of us had visited Egypt before. Karina was able to capture our first impressions of Egypt in this video.

The Jazz Tales Festival with support by the US Embassy in Cairo had invited us to close the festival with a workshop day and concerts in Cairo and Alexandria. Our task was to collaborate with Egyptian’s popular singer/songwriter Youssra El Hawary by learning one of her pieces and teaching her group something from our repertoire. She had risen to popularity with her song El Soor (The Wall) in  2012 and has been touring extensively since then, including an appearance at Washington’s Kennedy Center. We arranged her hit song together for the combined large ensemble and everyone got a solo on Carla Bley’s funky tune “Egyptian”.  Then we opened the workshop to the public for an improvisation clinic. About 20 participants brought ouds, guitars, violas, various percussion instruments, and of course their voices. Duke Ellington’s “C-Jam Blues” became the common denominator to discuss improv concepts and bring everyone together in a big jam session. The universality of the art form jazz transcended cultural and language differences as participants took turns taking solos and listening/ supporting each other. Here is a glimpse into the rehearsals and workshops of the day. 

The final highlight of the day was a visit to the Egyptian Museum that houses the artifacts and treasures retrieved from the pyramids and ancient dynasties. Enjoy these pictures!   

Before our sound check and evening concert in Cairo we managed to visit the Pyramids and the Sphinx  – one of the seven world wonders. Thanks to our gracious host and guide, IU alumn Jack Montgomery, who traveled from Kuawait to meet us and help us navigate the language and culture.  

 The 700-seat hall in Cairo was completely filled and our music and collaborations were greeted with much enthusiasm that evening. Our hostess treated us to a traditional feast after the concert with many new tastes and flavors – here is a taste.

For our last day we traveled three hours to Alexandria, a gorgeous Mediterranean city. We all vowed to come back and actually get to experience it as we barely had time to check in and perform our final concert. I should also mention the Egyptian driving culture that includes extensive use of the horn, fluid formation of lanes, and seemingly random traffic rules for right of way and crossing the streets. 

Our journey continued to Frankfurt, where we met up with my husband Peter and rented a large van to navigate our travels through Germany. The Frauenmusikbüro Melodiva and the Frankfurt Musikwerkstatt had invited us to host the very first Jazz Girls Day in Germany. About 20 girls ages 12-20 gathered by noon with their instruments, curious about what to expect. During the initial sharing session, it became apparent that many had little prior experience with jazz but were eager to experiment and learn. After an improv clinic, we formed two combos and a vocal ensemble who each learned a tune together – here is Leni’s vocal ensemble. Many new friendships were formed and the organizers pledged to continue the Jazz Girls Day tradition for years to come – a historical encounter!

  As we entered the two-week Easter vacation in Germany, our performances focused on the regional clubs rather than educational activities. We had the great honor to perform in some of the legendary venues including München’s Unterfahrt, Dresden’s Tonne, Wien’s Porgy & Bess, Karlsruhe’s Hemingway as well as participated in the Theaterhaus Stuttgart Jazztage, the Women in Jazz Festival in Halle and the largest European jazz gathering at Bremen’s Jazz Ahead. And best of all we got to spend Easter day with my German family for a big Easter Brunch and an afternoon excursion to the Bodensee. 

I’m eternally grateful to my band mates, who shared their musical gifts at the highest level every night no matter how long and stressful the travel days were often with little sleep and long car and bus rides. This band has a very special musical and personal bond, I can’t wait to record the next project and travel to many more places together.