Hear From Renee Rosnes of Artemis About What Performing in Ravenscroft Hall Means to Them

Artemis, the all-female Jazz supergroup coming to Ravenscroft Hall in May

Artemis — currently featuring Rosnes, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, alto saxophonist/flutist Alexa Tarantino, tenor saxophonist Nicole Glover, bassist Noriko Ueda and drummer Allison Miller — makes a statement at each performance before playing the first note. 

Someday, the phenomenon of an all-female jazz supergroup may bring no more attention to itself than an all-male group does today. But for now, the gender and diverse cultural backgrounds of this band, the musicians’ talent for original composition, and their serious jazz bona fides make Artemis extraordinary.

Blue Note Records will release Artemis’ second album, “In Real Time,” on May 5, 2023. The group’s debut album was released in 2020 and featured powerful tracks such as “Goddess of the Hunt.” 

Artemis will perform two shows on May 21, 2023 at Ravenscroft. We asked Rosnes a few questions about how the group was conceived in 2016 and what audience members will experience with an Artemis performance. 

You say “forget about gender” in reference to Artemis. But the sight of you all on stage makes an immediate and lasting impression. How and why should the audience forget about gender? 

Try to imagine listing an all-male band of any genre as such. It would look absurd. 

Many years ago, female jazz instrumentalists were such a minority — especially non-pianists and non-vocalists — that they were considered non serious musicians or thought of as novelty acts. Over the last three decades or so, more and more women have been and are pursuing careers in jazz, not only as pianists, but as drummers, percussionists, saxophonists, trumpeters and trombonists, etc. Today, it is not unusual to hear amazing women artists performing jazz all over the globe. 

Women are not only among the top-notch players they are also magnificent composers and commanding band leaders, not to mention award-winning artists. In the field of jazz, there is a myriad of female recipients of NEA Jazz Master Awards, Grammy Awards, Jazz Journalist Awards, Doris Duke Awards, MacArthur Fellowship Awards, Juno Awards, Guggenheim Fellowships, etc. The time has come to let go of the stereotype of female jazz musicians being “lesser than” their male counterparts. 

As the legendary Wayne Shorter (RIP) once told me when I was a member of his band, “Music transcends gender.” Artemis is simply one reflection of the global liberation of women across the arts. My hope is that audiences have an exhilarating time enjoying the music and forget about what gender we are or aren’t. It’s about the art. 

Additionally, while it is true that the band initially came to be at the suggestion of a French promoter, who proposed creating an all-female band to celebrate International Women’s Day with some concerts in Europe, the only reason the band exists today, is because we have an extraordinary musical chemistry, and we love playing together. 

Is the generational and cultural diversity and inclusion that Artemis represents as important and interesting as gender? 

I’m not sure that’s for me to say. What is important to one person, may not be to another. Personally, I find it inspiring that Artemis is inclusive of several different nationalities as well as generations. We all bring our own unique geographical and generational perspectives to the music. 

As an artist and as the group’s mastermind, how do you describe the progression of where Artemis began and where it is in 2023? 

The genesis of the band was in Paris, 2016. Since its inception, Artemis continues to grow as a band. The musical trust has deepened over the years, and the way we play together reflects this element. There is a greater sense of adventure and more chance-taking going on, which is exciting for us — and hopefully for the audience, too. 

Tell us a bit about your repertoire. How does it come together? 

It is important to me that the band’s repertoire reflect all of our musical voices, so, while we do perform a fair amount of original arrangements of other material, our own compositions are an integral part of Artemis’ presentation. As composers, each of us has a distinct perspective, drawn from our life experiences, which makes for an eclectic collection of music. No matter the piece, our common goal is to connect with and hopefully uplift audiences through the power of our music. 

What would you like listeners to conclude in a compare-and-contrast analysis of the two Artemis albums? 

I’m not interested in making a comparison between the two recordings. Each album reflects and documents the band as it was at the moment it was made. I love both albums and am excited for our fans to enjoy the new music. 

The spring of 2023 is a much different time than the fall of 2020 when Artemis’ debut album was released. How did that feel to be back performing live and back in the studio again?

The pandemic affected all of us in many ways, and as creative artists, specifically musicians, it was a very difficult time not being able to play with one another. So, when the restrictions finally eased up and we were able to go out on the road again, and get back into the studio, it was such a gift. I think that the audiences needed the music, and the musicians needed the audience too, so there was a beautiful release of emotion that went both ways. 

Is there an art to listening to jazz?

No one needs any special knowledge to listen to jazz. Simple exposure to the music is a great place to start. 

At its best, jazz is an emotionally engaging music and full of humanity. I liken the experience of playing jazz, to having a conversation with close friends. One person expresses a thought, and another has a reaction to it. The number of paths the conversation — or the music — can take, is endless. Great musicians and conversationalists are undoubtedly also great listeners. 

To enjoy the experience of a live jazz concert, one only needs an openness for the momentum of the rhythm; the depth of the groove; the joy of an improvised line; or the melancholy of a beautiful melody. Jazz is music of the moment and requires the listener to be in the moment, too.

Does a venue matter?  Should jazz enthusiasts expect to hear something different at the Ravenscroft shows? 

Each venue is unique and offers differences in acoustics and feeling. The venue is also just a structure without the energy of an engaged audience, and we are all looking forward to experiencing what the Ravenscroft has to offer on all fronts.

Is there a message you’re trying to deliver at Ravenscroft with your set list? 

There is no particular message beyond the fact that music at its best is a shared experience between those performing and those in the audience. It is a powerful, healing gift, and we hope that the listeners will come away feeling inspired by the sounds. I’m very aware that the Scottsdale-Phoenix area has a great number of devoted jazz fans, and we hope that they will come out to hear the band!

Artemis will be performing 2 shows to close out the 2022-2023 Ravenscroft Season on Sunday, May 21st at 5pm and 7:30pm.

Ravenscroft Hall

8445 E. Hartford Drive, Scottsdale, Arizona, 85255