147

Mary Lou Williams Collective: Zodiac Suite: Revisited

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Mary Lou Williams Collective: Zodiac Suite: Revisited 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 Allen carved out quite a nice present-day niche for herself as one of the best jazz musicians on the scene. I can't imagine anyone else taking on Williams' music for such a project as this—after all, she "played" the role of Williams in that dreadful film with the nice soundtrack, Kansas City.

In the spirit of the Mingus Dynasty or Dameronia, the canon of the group's namesake is recreated as true to its original as possible while retaining the interpreters' personal touch. Allen's forceful two-handed punch at the piano, like that of her idol's, successfully features plenty of blues, ragtime, boogie-woogie, spirituals, bop, and beyond, and in doing so ideally captures that incessant and inherent characteristic of Williams, who was always moving and exploring in her playing and composing. It's not a fact to easily ignore that Williams had her hand quite literally in every major era of jazz.

The harmonic, melodic and rhythmic nuances and varied tempos from one section to the next reflect Williams' original compositional concept, making the flow of one tune (or rather movement) to the next a natural development. Each section of the 12-part "Zodiac Suite" is a focused color and emotion expressed with plenty of turns and spins. From the youthful piano exercise of "Gemini" with its playful left-hand part; the reflective right-hand rain drops, light cymbals, and arco bass of "Cancer"; the blossoming thick chords from the opening snare march theme of "Leo"; to "Libra," with its Ellington-like elegance and "Scorpio," with its hypnotic bass and drum interaction—this is the first installment of much more in store for the Mary Lou Williams Collective. Rumor has it the next volume of material will feature vocalists Andy Bey and Honey Gordon.


Track Listing: Aries; Taurus; Gemini; Cancer; Leo; Virgo; Libra; Scorpio; Sagittarius; Capricorn; Aquarius; Pisces; The BeBop Waltz; Intermission; Thank You Madam.

Personnel: Geri Allen: piano; Buster Williams: bass; Andrew Cyrille: drums (13,15); Billy Hart: drums (all other tracks).

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Mary Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Dogs" CD/LP/Track Review Dogs
by Doug Collette
Published: February 28, 2016
Read "New Shoots" CD/LP/Track Review New Shoots
by Mike Oppenheim
Published: March 10, 2016
Read "Traffic" CD/LP/Track Review Traffic
by Dave Wayne
Published: September 8, 2016
Read "The Unity Sessions" CD/LP/Track Review The Unity Sessions
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 7, 2016
Read "I Long to See You" CD/LP/Track Review I Long to See You
by Ian Patterson
Published: March 11, 2016
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 9, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

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!