All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Mary Lou Williams: The Next 100 Years

Mary Lou Williams:...

Renma Recordings
2012

buy
 

Mary Lou Williams -...

Renma Recordings
2012

buy
A Simple Thank You

A Simple Thank You

Renma Recordings
2008

buy
Sandan Shuffle

Sandan Shuffle

Renma Recordings
2006

buy
Phantoms

Phantoms

Remma
2003

buy
 

No Walls

Foxhaven Records
2001

buy

Related Articles

Read Alive In The East? CD/LP/Track Review
Alive In The East?
by Chris May
Published: June 22, 2018
Read Love Stone CD/LP/Track Review
Love Stone
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 22, 2018
Read Empty Castles CD/LP/Track Review
Empty Castles
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 22, 2018
Read Myths and Morals CD/LP/Track Review
Myths and Morals
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 22, 2018
Read The Sum Of My Pardon CD/LP/Track Review
The Sum Of My Pardon
by Jim Olin
Published: June 22, 2018
Read Postcard Collection CD/LP/Track Review
Postcard Collection
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 21, 2018
Read "Rediscovered Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "Get Up And Go" CD/LP/Track Review Get Up And Go
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 6, 2017
Read "Phrases" CD/LP/Track Review Phrases
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 12, 2018
Read "Traveler" CD/LP/Track Review Traveler
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 14, 2018
Read "Triplicate" CD/LP/Track Review Triplicate
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "New Beginnings" CD/LP/Track Review New Beginnings
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 9, 2018