New York Gens Up on Jazz; MUSIC: Swansea Woman Shares Her Knowledge of African American Style

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Byline: LAURA EVANS

AS a female, white piano player from Wales, you would not necessarily expect Jen Wilson to have a passion for African American jazz.

But the music which has dominated her life for the last 20 years will hit one of its greatest moments next month when Wilson flies to New York to deliver a paper on African American Music in Wales at the request of her American peers.

It has taken Wilson years of individual study and research but she is finally getting merited recognition.

"I am quite pleased as it means my research work has been accepted and I am a part of an academic circle which recognises my work, " she said.

"You can perform music to an audience but research work needs to be accepted by your peers."

She has spent the last 15 years dedicated to establishing Women in Jazz, a trust which celebrates the great and good of women in music while at the same time she has been making a name for herself as a jazz historian.

It all began in the early 1980s when, after years of social work, Wilson was introduced to the rich history of women in music.

"I have always been a musician and I joined a women's history group set up by Ursula Marson, " she said.

"She was interested at looking at the history of women in music and particularly the social interest in Wales. By 1986 I had put two and two together and started to tour libraries and archives but there was hardly anything there. By the end of it, libraries were asking me to tell them if I had found anything out.

"By that time I had been working on videos within the history group so I knew how to talk to people and get their interests across to the viewer."

Wilson's studies combine many different cultures that would never normally be associated together.

"There has always been a terrific amount of interest in the subject and it is growing in Wales. …