345

Mary Lou Williams: A Grand Night for Swinging

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Mary Lou Williams: A Grand Night for Swinging It's always a pleasure to welcome a "new" album by pianist Mary Lou Williams, even one recorded more than three decades ago under less than favorable circumstances. Williams' trio (Ronnie Boykins, bass; Roy Haynes, drums) was taped in mid-winter 1976 during a long-running gig in snow-covered Buffalo, New York. As is true of many live recordings, especially those made years ago, the sound varies noticeably from track to track, with fluctuating volume levels and some surface noise, but Williams and her partners rise above those blemishes to present a consistently satisfying program of standards and originals.

The concert begins and ends with the title song, written by fellow pianist Billy Taylor, which Williams customarily used as the closing number in most of her sets. The standards "I Can't Get Started" and "My Funny Valentine" precede Williams' well-grooved original, "Bags' Blues" (an answer to Milt Jackson's "Bags' Groove"). A faster-paced blues, W.C. Handy's venerable "St. Louis Blues," is next, followed by John Stubblefield's boogie-like "Baby Man" and Juan Tizol's long-running "Caravan," on which Haynes takes center stage for an extended solo.

As the piece de resistance after the closing number, "A Grand Night for Swinging," there's a nearly five-minute interview with Williams. She reveals how she started playing professionally at age six (seated on other musicians' laps), discusses her decade-long "classroom experience" with Andy Kirk's band and, finally, her later spiritual awakening and temporary hiatus from jazz.

At the keyboard, Williams had technique to burn, but more than that, always seemed to be having a grand time—and she could swing the phone book. In fact, any night that she played piano was A Grand Night for Swinging. The trio is in splendid form, and Williams' sunny piano clearly outshines any visible (or audible) clouds, making this session more than worthwhile.


Track Listing: A Grand Night for Swinging; I Can't Get Started; My Funny Valentine; Bag's Blues; St. Louis Blues; Baby Man; Caravan; A Grand Night for Swinging; Interview with Mary Lou Williams.

Personnel: Mary Lou Williams: piano; Ronnie Boykins: bass; Roy Haynes: drums.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: HighNote Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Contrasts" CD/LP/Track Review Contrasts
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 30, 2016
Read "Arclight" CD/LP/Track Review Arclight
by Doug Collette
Published: March 5, 2016
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "The Only Way To Float Free" CD/LP/Track Review The Only Way To Float Free
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 12, 2016
Read "Alto Manhattan" CD/LP/Track Review Alto Manhattan
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "The LA EP" CD/LP/Track Review The LA EP
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 27, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!