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UNDER THE RADAR

Women in Jazz, Part 1: Early Innovators

Read "Women in Jazz, Part 1: Early Innovators" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

"Lil Hardin [Armstrong]...often imagined herself standing...at the bottom of a ladder, holding it steady for Louis as he rose to stardom." (Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, 2012). “The all-female band is an anomaly in music, one that must constantly prove itself as a 'band,' and not just 'girls playing music together.'" (Mary Ann Clawson, 1999). Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times." (Björk, 2015). Recent media projects such as Director Judy Chaikin's Girls ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Mary Lou Williams: A Grand Night for Swinging

Read "A Grand Night for Swinging" reviewed by Jack Bowers

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 ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Mary Lou Williams: Mary Lou's Mass, My Mama Pinned a Rose on Me, Zodiac Suite Revisited, The Lady Who Swings the Band

Read "Mary Lou Williams: Mary Lou's Mass, My Mama Pinned a Rose on Me, Zodiac Suite Revisited, The Lady Who Swings the Band" reviewed by George Kanzler

Mary Lou Williams Mary Lou's Mass Smithsonian Folkways 2006 Mary Lou Williams My Mama Pinned a Rose on Me OJC 2005 Mary Lou Williams Collective Zodiac Suite Revisited Mary Records 2006 Dutch Jazz Orchestra The Lady Who Swings the Band Challenge 2006 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

The Mary Lou Williams Collective: Zodiac Suite: Revisited

Read "Zodiac Suite: Revisited" reviewed by Michael P. Gladstone

The Zodiac Suite was composed by pianist Mary Lou Williams in 1944-45 and recorded shortly thereafter. It was also performed on Williams' weekly radio program in 1944. The suite consists of twelve segments, each musically describing one sign of the Zodiac, and is regarded as Mary Lou Williams' most important work. Each of the compositions was dedicated by Williams to personalities as diverse as Ben Webster, Leonard Feather and then-president Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

It has been sixty years ...

PROFILES

Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band

Read "Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band" reviewed by Bob Jacobson

Imagine a pianist playing concerts with Benny Goodman and Cecil Taylor in successive years (1977-78). That pianist was Mary Lou Williams. In a career which spanned over fifty years Mary was always on the cutting edge. She was born Mary Scruggs in 1910 Atlanta. Her mother was a single parent who worked as a domestic and played spirituals and ragtime on piano and organ. At age three Mary shocked her by reaching up from her mother's lap to ...

MEGAPHONE

Memories of Mary Lou

Read "Memories of Mary Lou" reviewed by AAJ Staff

By Rev. Peter F. O'Brien, S.J. I met Mary Lou Williams in the pages of Time Magazine. It was early 1964. She was 53 years old and I was 23. The article, under MUSIC, was in two parts - each about a different woman. The first concerned itself with Sarah Caldwell. Ms. Caldwell directed and produced operas and was the inventor of The Boston Opera Company. The sub-heading over her section of the story read: “The Persistent ...

PROFILES

Mary Lou's Salon

Read "Mary Lou's Salon" reviewed by AAJ Staff

"The all-time greatest woman jazz musician." That typically was the kind of language used in describing Mary Lou Williams. Mary Lou was a fabulous pianist, as well as a noted arranger, and composer. But she also had another role of distinction: she was a sort of mother spirit for innovative musicians. Her spacious Harlem apartment was a salon where, especially in the 1940's, many of the best jazz people hung out. I was a ...

PROFILES

Mary Lou Williams: Jazz Healing

Read "Mary Lou Williams: Jazz Healing" reviewed by Teri Harllee King

"Jazz has healing in it, and a lot of love."--Mary Lou Williams The prospect of writing a column on Mary Lou Williams is just a little bit daunting--reflecting on her considerable body of work and enormous talent, but to write about women jazz artists and not cover her would be as close to a jazz sin as I can think of. So, here goes... As I was reviewing Williams' prolific career, I logged on to see ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Mary Lou Williams: Mary Lou Williams Presents Black Christ of the Andes

Read "Mary Lou Williams Presents Black Christ of the Andes" reviewed by Bob Jacobson

Calling this album mainstream is a bit misleading, since it includes four pieces of choral/sacred music and one avant-garde cut. In a way, it's the perfect mirror of where Mary Lou Williams was in the early 1960's, coming out of a nearly ten year absence from performance. At the beginning of that period she had devoted herself solely to religion and charitable work. Jazz-loving priests within the Catholic church convinced her to convey her religious feelings through what she did ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Mary Lou Williams Collective: Zodiac Suite: Revisited

Read "Zodiac Suite: Revisited" reviewed by AAJ Staff

In March, Geri Allen performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Stanley Kaplan Penthouse with Daryl Hall (bass) and Billy Hart (drums), a coincidental CD release for this very musical Mary Lou Williams' Collective release that features Allen with an alternating trio featuring Buster Williams (bass) and Hart as well as Andrew Cyrille (drums). As Williams disproved many a fallacy in her time--in particular that women could not be successful let alone influential in the jazz world--so too has ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams

Read "Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams" reviewed by AAJ Staff

Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams Linda Dahl Berkeley: University of California Press ISBN: 0375408991 Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981): was she an important minor and perhaps neglected figure in jazz history, or was she a powerful and original stylist somehow left out of the jazz historical cannon? Should she, in fact, be ranked with the great jazz pianists like Fats Waller, Erroll Garner, Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell-all of ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Mary Lou Williams: Mary Lou Williams Trio at Rick's Cafe Americain

Read "Mary Lou Williams Trio at Rick's Cafe Americain" reviewed by Bob Jacobson

This CD is one of a handful by Mary Lou Williams finally appearing in “record" bins. Here's Mary Lou at age 69 and at the height of her powers (despite, as we're told by biographer Linda Dahl, physical ailments and a recent diagnosis of cancer). Also on board were Milton Suggs, bass, and Drashear Khalid, drums (brushes on all but one cut).

Billy Taylor has often said of Mary Lou Williams that “she has the most consistent way of swinging" ...


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