1

Virginia Mayhew Quartet: Mary Lou Williams: The Next 100 Years

Edward Blanco By

Sign in to view read count
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth date of pianist, composer and arranger Mary Lou Williams, the Virginia Mayhew Quartet pays homage to one of the most unheralded, yet most important jazz figures of all time on Mary Lou Williams—The Next 100 Years. Presenting new arrangements of eight Williams compositions and two original blues charts, Mayhew directs a formidable quartet of veteran players and special guest, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon to make for a powerful quintet sound on several tracks.

A prominent saxophonist, well-known fixture on the New York music scene and Musical Director of the Duke Ellington Legacy ensemble, Mayhew came up with the idea for this concept album after discussions with Italian pianist Tony Pancella on tour in Italy 2009. Originally looking to produce a more modern version of the Williams sound, Mayhew realized the music had to contain certain elements of swing and blues as well. In response to her research, Mayhew decided to enlist the help of Dizzy Gillespie alumnus Ed Cherry, whose blues inflected style would address the blues side of the equation. With her long-time bassist Harvie S and New York drummer Andy Watson to round out her core quartet, Mayhew cements a strong foundation upon which she builds this special celebration tribute to the late legend.

Not recorded since 1977, "J.B.'s Waltz" kicks off the celebration on a bluesy note, followed by "Medi I" and "Medi II." Though sharing similar titles ("Medi" is short for Meditation), the two could not be more different, with the first possessing a boppish flair featuring Gordon and Mayhew, while the latter changes direction becoming a slow layered ballad on which the saxophonist and Cherry are key. "Cancer" is perhaps the album's most challenging piece of music containing various changes throughout its eleven and a half minutes duration.

Mayhew and crew deliver an excellent rendition of "What's Your Story Morning Glory," one of Williams' most popular compositions. The 1953 tune, "N.M.E." (also known as "New Musical Express"), keeps some of its bebop texture, while featuring the bassist on lead. This anniversary tribute concludes with "One For Mary Lou" and "5 For Mary Lou," two Mayhew blues compositions dedicated specifically to the arranger for this disc.

Virginia Mayhew's serpentine saxophone lines and Gordon's penetrating trombone serve to produce their fair share of big band swing and swagger on Mary Lou Williams—The Next 100 Years, creating a birthday gift of inspirational music perfect for a new generation to explore.

Track Listing: J.B.'s Waltz; Medi II; Medi I; O.W.; Cancer; What's You Story Morning Glory; N.M.E.; Waltz Boogie; One for Mary Lou; 5 for Mary Lou.

Personnel: Virginia Mayhew: tenor saxophone; Gordon Wycliffe: trombone (2, 5, 6, 9, 10); Ed Cherry: guitar; Harvie S: bass; Andy Watson: drums.

Title: Mary Lou Williams: The Next 100 Years | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Renma Recordings


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "The Day After" CD/LP/Track Review The Day After
by David A. Orthmann
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "Paint" CD/LP/Track Review Paint
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 7, 2017
Read "Acceptance" CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Undertaker Please Drive Slow" CD/LP/Track Review Undertaker Please Drive Slow
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 15, 2017
Read "Better By Far" CD/LP/Track Review Better By Far
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 17, 2017
Read "Pathways" CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Jerome Wilson
Published: May 30, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.