Sam Gucwa and The New Standard Live at Moriarty’s (51:42)

Saxophone Jazz


This live performance showcased original compositions by female jazz musicians throughout history including Lil Hardin, Anat Cohen, and Geri Allen, as well as original works composed by Sam Gucwa inspired by the women who shaped the Miles Davis legacy. Performed by a gender-inclusive band, this performance showcases the influence of both past and future women and nonbinary musicians in jazz.


  • Sam Gucwa – alto sax/flute
  • Madeline Howard – tenor sax/clarinet
  • Nat Lewis – bari sax
  • Devine Wade – trumpet
  • Hannah Davies – trombone
  • Mia Chinni – guitar
  • Charlotte Best – bass
  • Ciara Connolly – drums


This project has changed shape massively since its conception. Originally it was meant to purely be a study on the women Miles Davis had relationships with who influenced his career. This exploration of the role of non-musician women in jazz was planned to be presented as an album which could be listened to on all streaming platforms or purchased as a CD. I also envisioned (and selected the personnel for) a band that was gender inclusive, but I never imagined a band with no men. I had written 3 of the 5 planned tunes when 3 events changed my concept entirely. First, the recording studio I wanted to work with couldn’t get me in for several months. Second, Jeff Shoup, the organizer for Jazz Tuesdays at Moriarty’s, asked me to organize an all-women’s ensemble to perform on December 5. Third, I spoke with Professor Rodney Whitaker, director of Jazz Studies, who loved the album’s concept but encouraged me to pursue it on a much larger scale that required significantly more resources and time than I had. So like a good improviser, I shifted directions. I organized a band of women and nonbinary musicians from the College of Music, arranged the tunes I had written, and then arranged several more by my favorite female composers. Typically at small clubs like Moriarty’s it isn’t financially feasible to hire more than a five-piece band, but thanks to the CREATE! Grant I was able to hire a full octet and pay every band member a little above the local standard. I was also able to use what would have been my pay to continue production on the album, which will be released in 2024. The CREATE! Grant was a great incentive for me to dig into my work as a composer and explore some uncomfortable but significant parts of jazz history that often get overlooked. I think any creative at MSU should consider working with CREATE!, but after having done it myself I would recommend making a clear budget and timeline before hitting ‘send’ on the application. If your project seems too big, shift directions! This performance may not have been my original plan, but I’m proud of the people I got to share the stage with and it ended up being a huge first step in producing a larger album.