Leslie maclean's "women in jazz"

A Little History

Back in April, 2018, John  Scott, owner of the Green Lady Lounge and Black Dolphin, asked me to put together an all female jazz ensemble, featuring Kansas City  female jazz instrumentalists.


Our goal is to create much greater visibility and awareness of the high level talent of female jazz instrumentalists in the Greater Kansas City area.

Women in Jazz  debuted as a quartet on Wednesday, September 19th, 2018 at the Black Dolphin.  Currently, the group is putting together a new book for 2019. For upcoming dates,  click here for more information. We are also available for clinics and concerts.

I continue to look for brass  players, reed players, upright bassists and drummers. I am also interested in original material! Players must be  familiar with swing, be-bop, hard-bop, Latin and modern mainstream  jazz genres. Players should be very comfortable reading charts and, of  course, improvising. If you are a female  jazz instrumentalist and interested in joining Women in Jazz, please submit your  contact information and a brief audio track if available to leslie@lesliemacleantrio.com. You can also contact me at 816.808.0539 (text or call). I look forward to  hearing from you!

Leslie Maclean

our members

Leslie Maclean

Leslie Maclean, leader and pianist, is thrilled to be working with such a talented group of jazz instrumentalists!

You can read more about Leslie here.

Aryana Nemati

Kansas City native Aryana Nemati has a true passion for music. She has been playing the saxophone for the past 13 years in addition to flute and clarinet. 

As she became more involved with music, she began studying with Kansas City local baritone saxophonist/composer, Kerry Strayer.

Aryana continued to pursue her musical aspirations at University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music. She received her bachelor’s degree in Jazz Performance/Studio Music in the winter of 2014. While here, she has studied with Tim Timmons, Zach Shemon, Dan Thomas, and Bobby Watson. She performed with both jazz and classical ensembles at the conservatory. In the spring of 2017, Nemati completed her teaching assistance-ship and received a master’s degree in Jazz Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Today Nemati performs regularly with bands of various genres such as reggae, ska, jazz, salsa, Motown, and funk. She has performed at a number of music festivals including Walkarusa in Mulberry, Arkansas, SXSW in Austin, Texas, and the Middle of the Map Music Festival at home in Kansas City. Nemati has recorded with many local artists. She enjoys exploring all styles of music and understanding where each comes from. She has had the honor of performing with Harry Connick Jr., Mindi Abair, Sister Carol, Reeko Lion, Naggo Morris, Harold ‘Spike’ Bonhart and Ernie Andrews. 

Still relatively young herself, Nemati encourages developing musicians to explore the art form. She currently teaches out of her own personal studio as well as the Tune Shop in Leavenworth, KS. Nemati assists her former middle and high school band programs, ensembles and individual students. 

When she isn’t performing, Nemati enjoys writing her own compositions, playing pool, and spending time outdoors. She hopes to spread the wonders of music to many in the vibrant scene of Kansas City and beyond.

Natalie Bates

Originally from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Natalie Bates lives and works throughout the Kansas City area as a drummer, graphic designer, instrument repair technician, assistant director/founder of the community youth non profit ‘5 Star Jazz Band’ and co owner of HKN Design. 

Natalie graduated from Penn Valley CC with a Digital PrePress Degree and from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance with a Jazz Studies degree under the direction of Bobby Watson and Dan Thomas.

More information about these endeavors can be found at www.nataliebateskc.com

Carly Atwood

Carly Atwood

Kansas City native, Carly Atwood, works locally as a professional bassist, teacher, and small business owner of Pet Pals KC. 

Graduating with a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from the UMKC Conservatory of Music, she is versed in a number of musical styles on both the electric and upright bass. She taught within the jazz band programs of the Grandview School District from 2015-2018. 

When she is not playing the bass, she spends her time walking dogs and sitting cats for Pet Pals.  

Kristina Ning


Kristina Ning is a Kansas City Missouri born musician who plays both upright and electric basses in multiple genres. Coming from a jazz background, she credits local legend Milt Abel as her earliest major influence on the instrument, beginning studies on electric bass at the age of thirteen.

Kristina regularly sits in with River Cow Orchestra, playing fully improvised music for poetry reading sessions. When not playing the bass, she works as a massage therapist, soap maker, gardener, wife and mother to a young bassist named Izzy.

Jill Jackson

Jazz saxophonist Jill Jackson

Jill Jackson, a Kansas City-based musician, arranger, teacher and activist, is a multi-instrumentalist with tenor and alto saxophone as her main modes of expression. She enjoys performing in big bands and jazz combos in the Kansas City area, and is equally at home in the concert hall as she is in the recording studio. 

She plays through genres as diverse as Afro-Cuban, bebop, blues, funk, free improvisation, and swing, and she has recently expanded her horizons by gigging with reggae, spy cabaret and electronica ensembles. 

She is a regular member of the FMO big band and has appeared with The Yard Sale Trio, Half Mad Poet, the Jazzhaus Big Band, the Kicks Band and many more. She has recorded with Krystle Warren, Noel Scott, Megan Birdsall and Greg Richter. As a member of Descarga KC, she was nominated for a Pitch Music Award. Her latest projects include work with the Skeleton Closet, a spy cabaret inspired group and work with a saxophone quartet.

Jackson is also a champion of saxophone in the classical repertoire, having performed with the Kansas City Symphony, and she is a fierce supporter of new and experimental works both as a chamber performer and soloist.

Playing and teaching professionally since the 1990s, Jackson has worked as a clinician in high schools and middle schools in Kansas, Missouri, and Texas, and for several years served as the saxophone instructor for the Kansas City Youth Jazz Bands. Most recently she taught woodwinds and keyboard lessons for the Eddie Baker School of Music. 

Jackson earned her Bachelor of Music Performance from Washburn University and her Master of Music Performance from Wichita State University, where she served as the Jazz Graduate Teaching assistant, directing Jazz Arts II and assisting various classes in the pop and jazz idioms. 

She is proud to live in the historic jazz city of Kansas City, MO, with her wife Sherri and son CJ, and is deeply grateful to work among such a diverse community of talented, intrepid and tireless local artists. 


Women in Jazz at the Black Dolphin, Kansas City, Missouri.

September 26th, 2018