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Organizing Change Pt. II: Leaving a Legacy for JGEI’s Future

By: Carly Stock

I was perusing some of the blog posts on the El Paso Jazz Girls site and was heartened to come across a post from my friend and fellow University of North Texas (UNT) Jazz Studies alum, Jess Goodrich: “Organizing Change: Starting the Women in Jazz Initiative at UNT” (Sept. 14, 2019). When I was a freshman and Jess was a senior back in 2019, she was one of the founding members of the Women In Jazz Initiative (now the Jazz and Gender Equity Initiative, or JGEI), a student-run organization at UNT. The organization was founded to advocate for women and marginalized genders within the jazz community and provide a safe space for open dialogue concerning gender issues as a jazz musician. Our mission stated that through discussions, masterclasses, guest artists, jam sessions and more, the members of JGEI will have the ability to effectively navigate the collegiate and professional jazz world while honoring the history of marginalized genders in jazz at North Texas. It further stated that JGEI will act as an agent for positive change within the Division of Jazz Studies as well as within the community-at-large.


As someone who has been playing jazz since I was 10 years old, this was a cause that I knew

was much-needed. Growing up in Los Angeles, I was fortunate to have access to incredible

resources from which to learn about jazz music. But as I became more serious about my craft, I became more isolated from my female peers. While I didn’t mind hanging with the guys, I

couldn’t help but wonder: Where were all the girls? In middle school jazz band, there were

plenty of girls playing alongside me. But as I started attending a serious after-school jazz

program, I was often the only girl. This phenomenon carried through my entire high school



So when I arrived at UNT as a freshman, I instantly knew I wanted to become involved in JGEI. I increased my involvement each year, and stayed with it throughout my entire college

experience. With stagnant membership, there was a lot of work to be done. In my fifth and final year, I became president and along with my amazing Vice President Renée McGee and Ally Representative Joey Craig and the advice and support of Professors Quincy Davis and Alan Baylock, (who stepped in to help after we were devastated by the loss of our founding advisor, former Jazz Chair Dr. John Murphy), I was determined to leave behind a reinvigorated organization. We continued to organize discussion groups, arrange jams with faculty and students, book inspiring guest artists for masterclasses, and seek memberships. We also sold merch and launched an annual fundraiser to help fund our annual Jazz and Gender Equity Day; those funds were able to bring The Denison High School Sweethearts of Swing to join us for classes, jams, and even perform a concert.

Still, before I graduated, I wanted to dedicate myself to making lasting change so that

underrepresented individuals in jazz would always have a place at UNT. So, thanks to a very

generous contribution from retired UNT instrument repair professional and talented jazz

drummer Ann MacMillan, we established The Ann MacMillan and Carly Stock Endowed Scholarship for the Jazz and Gender Equity Initiative, the first scholarship of its kind at UNT

to be awarded to deserving women and non-binary individuals and members of JGEI who pursue instrumental jazz studies at the UNT College of Music. I am so grateful to Ann MacMillan, my mentor and friend, for including my name on the scholarship alongside hers to commemorate the meaningful work we did together to make this happen. The annual scholarship is expected to become available beginning in fall 2024. I’m so excited about this scholarship because every step toward equity is a step toward more diversity in music.


Since graduating in May, I’ve released my debut single, “Finally.” The tune holds a special

place in my heart because it’s the first song I’ve ever written and produced. It’s about

empowerment and celebrates coming into my own as an artist. The piece was inspired by two of my influences, saxophonists Braxton Cook and Terrace Martin, leading innovators in jazz, hip-hop, rap, and neo-soul.


Artwork by Veronica Clements

I’ve now moved back home to Los Angeles and am looking forward to working for a while and releasing more music before going on to grad school for my master’s degree. This summer, I’m excited to be on staff at Stanford Jazz Workshop in Palo Alto, Calif. in July for the third consecutive year, an instructor at the University of North Texas Jazz Combo Workshop in Denton, Texas also in July, and have just begun teaching at Coast Music Conservatory in Manhattan Beach, Calif. I am also thrilled be the newest member of Phat Cat Swinger, “Hollywood’s favorite little big band.” The band will be touring for six weeks and performing at Disneyland throughout the holiday season. If you’re ever in Los Angeles, look me up! I always love connecting with other women in jazz.


“Finally,” is now streaming on all platforms. Stock is accompanied on the piece by Jake

Nalangan (piano), August Bish (electric bass), and Colman Burks (drum set). The piece was

recorded by Seth Blitstein in Denton, Texas in March of this year, produced by Stock, and

mixed by Jeffrey Hepker. For more information about alto saxophonist Carly Stock, visit or follow her on Instagram or YouTube.

Carly Stock is a Los Angeles-born jazz saxophonist and woodwind artist known for her big tone and even bigger personality. Since she began playing the saxophone, Carly fell in love with masters like Kenny Garrett and Antonio Hart, and as she honed her craft, began implementing their creativity, huge sounds, and grit into her own unique style. While in middle and high school, Carly found mentorship at the Colburn School of Performing Arts in downtown LA, where saxophonist and educator Lee Secard took her under his wing. But it wasn’t until she saw the University of North Texas famed One O’Clock Lab Band that she knew she wanted to pursue music full-time. In the most cliché turn of events imaginable, Carly went on to earn her BM in Jazz Studies and minor in Commercial Music from the University of North Texas, where she studied with Professor Brad Leali and played in the Grammy-nominated One O’Clock Lab Band for almost two years.

Carly continues to share her musical endeavors with her fans through the Carly Stock Big Band. Her band finds its niche not only in serving as a vehicle for brand-new, high-energy pieces, but also as the only female-led big band in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Carly is an advocate for women's equity in jazz music, and her presence and musicality continue to break boundaries in the field. Her debut single, “Finally,” a modern jazz ballad that represents solace after strife, is now streaming on all platforms. In addition to her musical projects, Carly offers private lessons in person and virtually. To learn more about her big band, private lessons, booking, and other upcoming musical projects, contact her via her website at

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