137

Mary Lou Williams: Mary Lou Williams, 1945-1947

By

Sign in to view read count
At long last the "record" bins have more than two or three CD's of Mary Lou Williams, the brilliant pianist-composer-arranger whose career spanned half the century. This album from her mid-career includes 25 cuts (total time = 66 minutes, 51 seconds), with Mary in a variety of formats: solo, trio, quartet, quintet ("Mary Lou Williams Girl Stars") and directing a ten-piece orchestra.

In the 1970's Mary Lou Williams described herself as the only musician who had lived through AND played all the styles of jazz. In fact she was one of the few Swing Era musicians who adopted, promoted and contributed to the innovations of the "bop" era. It's all in evidence on this album - stride, swing, touches of bop rhythms and harmonies in 1945 to full immersion in the modern sounds by 1947, especially on "Kool", with Kenny Dorham on trumpet. If you've never heard guitarist Mary Osborne or vibraphonist Margie Hyams (alumna of the first Herman Herd) you're in for a real treat, with both contributing excellent modern solos as well as ensemble work. The 1947 Milton Orent-F rank Roth Orchestra sounds amazingly like a slightly tamer version of Dizzy Gillespie's big band of the same period (Mary Lou and Orent co-wrote and arranged "In the Land of Oo-Bla-Dee" for Dizzy's big band).

Mary's solo work includes beautiful treatments of four standards: How High the Moon, The Man I Love, These Foolish Things and Blue Skies. She packs so much into the latter tune it's hard to believe that it only lasts a little over two minutes. Again, there's a synergy with other aspects of Williams' renaissance career. She had recently arranged a version of Blue Skies for Duke Ellington's Orchestra, titled "Trumpets No End", which Duke also recorded in 1946.

Also noteworthy are a very hip version of Dvorak's "Humoresque" and one of the first jazz waltzes, "Waltz Boogie", probably one of the most interesting tunes of its time, full of intricate piano and bass figures, modern rhythms and harmonies.

For me the only low point of this album is the insipid group vocal on "Mary Lou". Otherwise this is a thoroughly enjoyable, frequently eye-opening CD from a creative high point in the amazing career of one of jazz' greatest talents.

| Record Label: Classics | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "The Space Between" CD/LP/Track Review The Space Between
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2016
Read "Flow" CD/LP/Track Review Flow
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2016
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 17, 2016
Read "Looking Back" CD/LP/Track Review Looking Back
by Jim Olin
Published: March 8, 2016
Read "Friday Night in San Francisco" CD/LP/Track Review Friday Night in San Francisco
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: September 4, 2016
Read "Koan" CD/LP/Track Review Koan
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 12, 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!