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The Girls in The Band, directed and produced by Judy Chaikin, Michael Greene, and Nancy Kissock, and edited by Edward Osei-Gyimah, literally screens in the untold, groundbreaking stories of female jazz and big band instrumentalists from the late 30s to the present day. These narratives, previously screened out due to pervasive sexism and racism, are profuse in racial, gender, class, and cultural history, and teeming with intoxicating images of fortitude and “flava.”
Too often, we imagine “the girls in the band” to be lead singers— seductresses of sorts, generally functioning, whether intentional or not, on some level of sexual mythology. To be sure, this reading fails to adequately reflect reality. The Girls in The Band proves that the girls in the band are irreducible to our unblinking gazes and frozen silhouettes, and they inhabit multiple subject positions simultaneously—to include but not limited to supremely talented instrumentalists who are producers of not only dramatic musical scenes, but also a language—both of which demand further critical engagement. For the time being, enjoy!