Since its founding in 1992, The UNITED WOMEN’S ORCHESTRA established itself as one of the few European bigbands playing new music, and as one of the few all-women bigbands in Europe with an original repertoire. Led by Hazel Leach (Arnhem, NL) and Christina Fuchs (Cologne, Germany ) the band presented an exclusively original repertoire, composed by the two bandleaders.


„All credit to The United Women's Orchestra for disposing once and for all of the (male) judgement "good.. for a woman". This is a band which sounds different to other bands, and sounds furthermore as if it wants to.
This is a band which sounds different to other bands, and sounds furthermore as if it wants to. Not better, not worse, but more interesting, more exciting, simply different. It's difficult to find the words to define exactly what made me prick up my ears. Perhaps we'll have to wait for a comparison with other women's big bands to be able to describe what is special about the UWO.”
Reiner Michalke, Moers Festival

Band Setup:

Meike Goosmann ss, as, cl
Corinna Danzer as, fl
Marie-Christine Schröck ts, cl
Christine Hörmann bari, fl
Silke Eberhard bcl, cl
Christina Fuchs ts, bcl
Hazel Leach fl

Steffi Deckers, Hermine Schneider, Sabine Ercklentz, Gisela Messollen

Teddy Steen, Petra Krumphuber, Anke Lucks, Janni Struzyk

Rhythm Section:
Ulla Oster double bass, Julia Hülsmann/Laia Genc pno, Nils Tegen drums

Ineke van Doorn

Christina Fuchs / Hazel Leach


"The beauty of this project, in part, comes from the fact the music is composed by members of the group. It's written especially for the individuals playing it, and that spirit of collaboration is ever present in the music. Hazel Leach and Christina Fuchs have contributed exciting and creative new music of intricacy and beauty and it is presented by stellar players. This very special group deserves wide recognition."
Maria Schneider NYC

..."The music of the United Women's Orchestra is an important contribution to the strengthening of the the identity of European jazz."...
Michael Naura NDR 1998

"One of the true joys of my job is the thrill of discovering something new and meaningful – a circumstance that has become increasingly rare in these days of connect-the-dots predictability. When I first heard about The United Women's Orchestra, names like George Russell, Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, Ornette Coleman, Julius Hemphill and Eric Dolphy were invoked in describing the music and the musicians who play it. This sets them apart from the mainstream thrust of the present Jazz scene even more than the fact that everyone involved happens to be female, a circumstance more interesting than important. More meaningful is the fact that all of the members are European (by birth or choice), and Europe has been a haven for the most adventurous of American Jazz musicians, dating all the way back to Sidney Bechet, providing a deeper appreciation and understanding than the more narrow-visioned and conservative audiences on my side of the Atlantic."
George Lane, GMN (Global Music Network)

... "Any expectation you may have about an all woman band failing to produce the impact of the usual male-dominated group, you can forget right now. The music is original, composed and arranged by the co-leaders Hazel Leach and Christina Fuchs. The concept seems to radiate from the personal experiences of the writers interpreted musically. Although the band's configuration is traditional, the writing is not and the listener can expect the envelope to be stretched and his musical beliefs to be be challenged. If you can think about George Gruntz and perhaps Brookmeyer in advanced mode, you will be fairly close to the impact of this ensemble. For the most part, the unexpected turns of the writing are not too sharp and many outstanding lyrical moments soften the overall drama of the music. The performance often devolves to 'small group' and you are tempted to think of the rest of the ensemble as just another voice in that small group. The experience is of extreme emotions from the dramatic to the sublime and beautiful.?This remarkable ensemble would probably be a culture shock for most traditional listeners, but for those who live at the cutting edge, there is plenty to marvel at. These are muscular meaningful performances by musicians of extreme ability"...
John Killoch, August 2000. "Mainly Big Bands"

...Exploding any lingering stereotypes about Europeans and women as second-class jazz citizens, Hazel Leach and Christina Fuchs' modernist orchestra of 18 musicians handles original repertoire with self-possession. The forward-looking music, much more than a conduit for able soloists, impresses most for the muted glow of the interestingly-voiced brass and low-register reeds. The resulting soft pastel colors give the arrangements an alluring emotional ambiguity...
Downbeat USA 1/97

... The UWO is not the first all-women's bigband, but it is the first to find a distinctive sound..comparable to the new sound of Maria Schneider ...
Hamburger Morgenpost 11/96

... Women in jazz are still rather the exception than the rule- especially an all-women bigband which plays original music written by its' two leaders. In particular, the explosive compositions of Hazel Leach , with their funky influences, set themselves apart from the traditional bigband patterns ...
Ruhr Nachrichten 5/95