In the beginning, there were “The Chicks!” I encouraged Monika Herzig to pursue her love of Chick Corea’s music and dared to mention the play on words with his name. Her project is anything but tongue-in-cheek. She has assembled some seriously accomplished musicians, all of whom happen to be women. Not only can we be excited about the music they play, we can be thrilled about the important example they represent of high achieving women. Women are not the only ones that can feel lucky about what “The Whole World In Her Hands” has brought us. We all can. – Grammy Winning Bassist, John Clayton
Her vision clearly in place with a brilliantly reharmonized, reimagined and rearranged version of the traditional spiritual, “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands,” Herzig collaborated with manager/producer Suzi Reynolds to make some history and a strong international statement with this recording. They assembled an international array of bandleaders from Israel, Cuba, Germany, India, NYC, Australia and Malaysia. This is a variation on the theme most would recognize as being how great jazz records have been made – independent, creative artists meet and discover their alchemy as a group, and fearlessly dive into new material. In the case of Monika Herzig’s new release, however, one variation makes the recording sessions particularly notable – every musician on this date happened to be female.
Beyond this historic fact is the music itself and the cohesion of the ensemble playing it, impressive on any level. Yet each of the members of Herzig’s taut ensemble are eminent musicians and leaders in their own right, all women who have toured, recorded to international acclaim. Their talents, especially those of their leader, are on full display as instrumentalists, collaborators and composers here. In this album titled The Whole World in Her Hands, each player finds the world in the instrument at her fingertips.
It’s not surprising that great talent is at the center of Herzig’s work. In this stunning and contemporary project, Monika showcases her artistry and those of top jazz women working today. Her intelligence and depth are audible in these songs, from originals to unique arrangements of current hits. Bringing the likes of guitarist Leni Stern (Germany/NYC), percussionist Mayra Casales (Cuba), flutist/saxophonist Jane Bunnett (Canada), drummer Arianna Fanning (Indian-American), bassist Jennifer Vincent (USA), trombonist Reut Regev (Israel), flutist Jamie Baum (USA/NYC), alto saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin (USA/NYC)) and bassist Linda Oh (Malaysia/Australia) together to play this panoply of music has created a whole that is truly greater than the sum of its impressive parts. Herzig says of the record, “I’m really excited about how this project came together and what all of these women have been able to accomplish. Producer Suzi Reynolds helped us shape the music based on her long and successful track record of leading projects and managing artists. She captured this large, live and immediate sound from a studio recording with a sensitive and firm vision. My goal and hope is to offer this work as model for young women contemplating a career in music by seeing and hearing what these women from all over the world have managed to accomplish, despite many difficulties.”
To know the woman who created this work is to further appreciate the music she makes. Monika Herzig is a fearless and complete jazz artist touring internationally as a pianist, bandleader, author and advocate for the music, its genres and its players.
Much like Marian McPartland before her, Monika’s influence in jazz is felt far beyond her pianistic skill. Her lauded biography “David Baker, A Legacy in Music” was singled out by the AAUP as “outstanding,” and her outreach work has taken her from teaching at Indiana University to co-founding the “Girls Create Music” songwriting camp, serving on the Executive Board of The Jazz Education Network (JEN), while tirelessly advocating for women in music. Herzig has also received “The 2015 Jazz Hero Award” by the Jazz Journalists Association, won DownBeat Magazine’s “Best Original Song” Award for her composition “Let’s Fool One” and has received multiple artist grants from the Indiana Arts Commission and acclaim for her twelve album releases. Few musicians of Monika’s depth and skill have the gift of creating a community in support of their musical vision, of the music showcasing the talents of others as well as their own. She is that artist.