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Mary Lou Williams


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 pick out a tune on the keyboard. Rather than hiring a teacher (for fear the child would lose the ability to improvise) Mary's mother invited professional musicians to their home


Article: Radio & Podcasts

New Releases, Mothers In Jazz, Birthday Shoutouts to Mary Lou Williams, Carla Bley & More

Read "New Releases, Mothers In Jazz, Birthday Shoutouts to Mary Lou Williams, Carla Bley & More" reviewed by Mary Foster Conklin

The Mothers Day broadcast includes new releases from Win Pongsakorn, Nicki Parrott, Brenda Earle Stokes, Yelena Eckemoff, Luke Sellick & Andrew Renfroe, Meg Okura, Wadada Leo Smith & Amina Claudine Myers and Haile Loren, with birthday shoutouts to Mary Lou Williams, Carla Bley, Tania Maria, Nadje Noordhuis, Judi Silvano, Andrea Superstein and Allegra Levy, among others. ...


Article: The Golden Age of Jazz

Mary Lou's Salon

Read "Mary Lou's Salon" reviewed by Bill Gottlieb

This article was first published at All About Jazz in June 1999.“The all-time greatest woman jazz musician." That typically was the kind of language used in describing Mary Lou Williams.Mary Lou Williams Mary Lou was a fabulous pianist, as well as a noted arranger, and composer. But she also had another role ...


Article: Album Review

Geri Allen & Kurt Rosenwinkel: A Lovesome Thing

Read "A Lovesome Thing" reviewed by Neil Duggan

Geri Allen and Kurt Rosenwinkel had a duo date as part of the Jazz à la Villette festival in Paris in 2012. They flew in on the night from separate cities to play for a packed audience. They had only played together a couple of times and this concert was the first and only time they ...


Article: Profile

Autumn Jazz Weathers Well in San Francisco

Read "Autumn Jazz Weathers Well in San Francisco" reviewed by Arthur R George

Autumn is a special season for jazz in jny: San Francisco. The weather at other times of the year variously drives one indoors for warmth, a good enough reason to seek shelter in jazz. But in the autumn, mostly gone is the bone-chilling summer fog that pours into the city from the cold Pacific Ocean. Not ...


Article: Album Review

Miki Yamanaka: Shades of Rainbow

Read "Shades of Rainbow" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Pianist Miki Yamanaka's working trio (Tyrone Allen, bass; Jimmy Macbride, drums) is very good. Add tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, as she does on Shades of Rainbow, and the results are even better. Besides playing nimble and expressive piano, Japanese-born, New York-based Yamanaka composed and arranged every song on Rainbow, her fifth album as leader.


Article: Album Review

Darrell Grant's MJ New: Our Mr. Jackson

Read "Our Mr. Jackson" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Anyone missing the artistry and elegance of the Modern Jazz Quartet will warm quickly to pianist Darrell Grant's MJ New, which pays homage to the great vibraphonist Milt Jackson and, through him, the legendary MJQ, on Our Mr. Jackson. The instrumentation is the same as the MJQ, with Mike Horsfall sitting in for Jackson on vibraphone ...

Article: My Favourite Things

Mary Ancheta e il Questionario di Proust

Read "Mary Ancheta e il Questionario di Proust" reviewed by Paolo Peviani

Il tratto principale della mia musica Credo che ogni canzone abbia una corrente trainante sotterranea, che sia all'interno di un tema, di una progressione o di un ritmo. Cerco di dare una musicalità alle mie canzoni. Anche se la melodia è un po' spigolosa, voglio comunque che abbia un senso per le orecchie e ...


Article: Radio & Podcasts

George Coleman, David Larsen, Mary Lou Williams & Cecilia Smith

Read "George Coleman, David Larsen, Mary Lou Williams & Cecilia Smith" reviewed by Joe Dimino

We begin the 804th episode with a vibraphonist Cecilia Smith and music from the Mary Lou Williams Resurgence Project. From there, we hear from Mary Lou Williams herself with a live recording from 1936. Throughout this episode, we hear new music from George Coleman, Ben Rosenblum, Walter Smith III and Snarky Puppy. In between, we go ...


Article: Radio & Podcasts

A Celebration of Music By Mary Lou Williams - A Formidable Jazz Mother On Many Fronts

Read "A Celebration of Music By Mary Lou Williams - A Formidable Jazz Mother On Many Fronts" reviewed by Mary Foster Conklin

This broadcast celebrates Mothers Day featuring music by Mary Lou Williams in the first hour (a formidable Jazz Mother on so many fronts). In the second hour, more music by jazz mothers Geri Allen, Allison Miller, Chris McNulty and more, with new releases from the Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band plus singles from Ann Hampton Callaway ...


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