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Newton-based group showcases women playing jazz from around the world

Women in World Jazz features (from left) Ririka Tokushige, Laurie Goldsmith, Diane Gately, Candida Rose, and Tal Shalom-Kobi.Joni Lohr

Women in World Jazz, a local educational performance ensemble, is hosting events for Newton residents to explore jazz performed by women and encourage young people to join their music program.

Founded by Tal Shalom-Kobi in 2015, Women in World Jazz aims to expose audiences to different cultures through music and dance. She said their performers have a variety of music backgrounds including jazz, folk, rhythm, and blues.

“But the one thing that we share in common is that we all care about music that is written and has continued to be written by women, and we wanted to highlight the compositions and the music and give it our own little touch,” Shalom-Kobi said.


The Women in World Jazz program started as five friends who looked to explore a common interest and play their favorite songs for audiences. After years of performing around the region, the women turned their attention to teaching younger generations about different styles of jazz.

“We’re all educators, and we just love to connect,” Shalom-Kobi said.

Women in World Jazz performed their latest concert at the Newton Free Library April 5, showcasing the work of a variety of female musicians.

“We certainly wanted to represent women writers from our home countries,” said Candida Rose, the lead vocalist for Women in World Jazz.

The group’s performance followed famous jazz artists with different techniques, from Miriam Makeba of South Africa to Leah Goldberg of Israel.

“We all want the same thing — to educate about the greatness of women — past, present, and hopefully going into the future as well,” Rose said.

Shalom-Kobi said their junior program seeks to expose the next generations to women in jazz and also gives some a chance to explore their heritage. They learn about the artists as well as how to play the songs.


“My experience has been great. I’ve had a lot of fun, and it’s a lot of commitment,” said Fiona Gully, 15, a high school member in Women in World Jazz Junior. “It’s hard work, but it really pays off.”

Tal Shalom-Kobi’s daughter, Ayla, 15, said the program is inspiring and shows “how fun the music community can be.”

“I’ve been in a lot of different bands—but playing with people my age who want to be there makes it all the more rewarding and fun,”Ayla said.

At some point in her career, Tal Shalom-Kobi said, she hopes to expand the ensemble and educational programs.

“We don’t have to stay very localized to the greater Boston area,” Tal Shalom-Kobi said.

Tal Shalom-Kobi said there is more work needed to ensure the community has a chance to learn about women in jazz.

“This is sort of an evolving project,” Tal Shalom-Kobi said.

Michael Wax can be reached at