b. c.1950, Texas, USA. As a child Patterson learned to play piano, then switched to oboe, before moving to the saxophone family. Directed in part by parental pressure and partly because of the prejudice against women in music, she studied to be a teacher of music. After attending North Texas University and the University of Illinois, she began teaching. She married around this time and moved with her husband to California. She continued to teach but was unhappy both with this role and in her marriage. After her divorce she began to look more towards playing, not teaching, and while on the west coast worked in various bands including one led by Don Ellis. She established a high reputation as a player who could be called upon for commercial work and to play jazz, preferably with a bebop slant.
In time, Patterson started to play with an all-female band despite her awareness that the nature of such bands is sometimes limiting. Impressed by the quality and seriousness of the musicians with whom she was now working, she continued for a while, appearing at the Kansas City Women’s Jazz Festival, and on television on the Johnny Carson Show. Subsequently, she left the band and took over leadership of the female big band, Maiden Voyage, aiming to develop a commercial ‘dance date’ band, but one that could also play original and demanding music in order to employ fully and extend the skills and abilities of its members. Influenced on alto saxophone by Charlie Parker and Phil Woods, Patterson is a forward-thinking musician with a keen sense of the nature and roots of jazz but with a realistic attitude towards the prejudices against women. Her personal attributes and the great respect afforded to Maiden Voyage have done much to break down these prejudices, especially amongst male jazz musicians in California.