Milwaukee Jazz Institute will stage a concert to benefit a new scholarship for women jazz musicians

Saxophonist Juli Wood and vocalist-accordionist Robin Pluer will be among the performers Sunday at the Pat Petry Scholarship Concert at the Jan Serr Studio. Courtesy

The Pat Petry Celebration Concert will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. this Sunday, March 27 in the Jan Serr Studio, in the Kenilworth Building, one of the city’s newest event venues, at 2155 N. Prospect Avenue, in Milwaukee.

Though most of the Milwaukee Jazz Institute’s more visible musicians are male, things are changing. The aggregation understands its “motherlode” roots as a strong independent music organization, growing notably with the city’s modern history of women musicians. Those include singers Jessie Hauck, Penny Goodwin, Adekola Adedapo, Donna Woodall, Marcya Daneille, and vocalist-accordionist Robin Pluer. There’s also pianists Lynne Arriale, Martha Artis, pianist-organist Beverly Pitts, violinist Sonya Robinson, the duo Mrs. Fun, and saxophonist Juli Wood, among others. 1 The Institute’s co-founder and managing director is also a woman, Erin Davis.

The late jazz singer Jessie Hauck with Manty Ellis on guitar and Berkeley Fudge on tenor sax. Courtesy “Milwaukee Jazz” by Joey Grihalva 

Milwaukee organist and pianist Beverly Pitts. Courtesy Wisconsin Black History Museum/Facebook

 Then there was one Marilyn “Pat” Petry, a patron extraordinaire, during the star jazz student heyday in the 1980’s, when young Wisconsinites emerged with national reputations, including Arriale, multiple Grammy-winner Brian Lynch, David Hazeltine, Gerald Cannon, Carl Allen, and others.

So, time has come to honor that legacy, and the MJI’s ongoing one, for the sake of Women’s History Month – in Milwaukee. The Institute has founded a scholarship for aspiring women jazz musicians in Pat Petry’s name, and will present a two-day fund-raiser event, both live and virtual. 

. The Pat Petry Celebration Concert will include members of the all-star jazz sextet We Six: trumpeter Eric Jacobson, pianist Mark Davis, guitarist Paul Silbergleit, and drummer Dave Bayles. Other featured performers include vocalists Adekola Adedapo and Marcya Daneille, vocalist-accordionist Robin Pluer, bassist Clay Schaub, saxophonist Juli Wood, Mrs. Fun (keyboardist-vocalist Connie Grauer and drummer Kim Zick) and drummer Bob Ellicson’s trio.

Then, on Monday, March 28, the Institute aims for a broader educational celebration as guitarist and jazz historian Silbergleit hosts an online program Women in Jazz: Keys & Frets. This will investigate women jazz keyboardist, pianists, and guitarists in jazz history.

The late Marilyn “Pat” Petry, with her son Daniel Petry, attending the grand opening of the Jan Serr Studio, which will be the site of the Pat Petry Celebration Concert on Sunday. The event is a fundraiser for a scholarship, in her name, for aspiring women jazz musicians. Photo courtesy Daniel Petry

None of this would’ve happened but for the legacy left by Pat Petry, a woman who supported jazz with a zealous heart and, in her distinctive way, might be compared to Lorraine Gordon of Village Vanguard fame, or Pannonica de Koengiswarter, Thelonious Monk’s longtime patron.

She grew up in Menomonee Falls, married and raised three sons on a dairy farm. In the 1970s she began travel industry work, which allowed her to travel to favorite cities, New York, Hong Kong, London, San Francisco, and New Orleans, while deeply cultivating her appreciation of jazz, according to her son, Daniel Petry, a scholarship organizer.

From the 1980’s until 2021, Pat Petry was a fixture at Milwaukee’s jazz clubs. In the crucial 1980’s, she friended the jazz faculty and students of the Conservatory, including Berkeley Fudge, Manty Ellis, David Hazeltine, Brian Lynch, Mark Davis, Juli Wood, Adekola Adedapo, Dave Bayles, Paul Silbergleit, and many others. As a travel consultant, she arranged trips for Lynch to and from New York and around the United States. She also worked with Wood on her many performance trips to Denmark, Sweden, and Norway in the late 1980s and 1990s.

In the 1980s and 1990’s, Pat shared a weekend apartment in New York and regularly attended theatre, then haunted jazz clubs at night, rubbing shoulders with many jazz legends.

Pat’s other passion included Women’s Rights, as a volunteer for many organizations, including Sojourner Peace Center.

Pat died on July 11, 2021. “Thus, the Pat Petry Jazz Scholarship was established by family and friends as a tribute to Pat’s passions for jazz, young women and education,“ Petry said.

For tickets and information, visit: Jazz benefit information


This article was previously published in The Shepherd Express, here: Shepherd Express article on jazz benefit

1 See forthcoming Culture Currents post about Lynne Arriale


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