Mary Lou Williams


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Always in sync with progressive developments in jazz music, pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader Mary Lou Williams turns out to have made more records during the 1940s and '50s than most people ever realized. Thanks to the Classics Chronological Series, listeners are now able to follow her career session by session throughout these eventful and transitional years. The fifth installment of her complete recorded works in chronological order opens with a fascinating pair of angular studies in chamber bop. Recorded for the King label on March 18, 1949, these tracks feature the most dramatically modern-sounding band that Mary Lou Williams had ever assembled. With a front line of trumpeter Idrees Sulieman, Alan Feldman on clarinet and alto sax, and pre-Eric Dolphy bass clarinetist Martin Glaser backed by Williams, guitarist Mundell Lowe, bassist George Duvivier, and drummer Denzil de Costa Best, "Tisherome" and "Knowledge" are bracing examples of a bop logic that is strikingly adventuresome. The flip sides are topical bop scat novelties featuring vocalist Kenny "Pancho" Hagood. On January 3, 1950, the rhythm section met again to wax four more sides for King. Here the material consisted of jazz standards with Williams at times playing organ or piano or both instruments simultaneously -- during "Bye Bye Blues" she operates the organ with her left hand, piano with her right. On March 7, 1951, the Mary Lou Williams Trio cut ten sides for the Atlantic record company for release on the new LP format. This session turned out to be decidedly cool and nonchalant -- even old "Pagliacci" becomes irresistibly hip. This excellent survey of vintage early modern jazz concludes with five sides cut for the Circle label in June of 1951. The first of these, a carefully devised bop love song sung by the Dave Lambert Singers, features Elbert "Skippy" Williams on bass clarinet. The remaining tracks, recorded four days later, are delightfully cool studies for Billy Taylor's string bass, Willie "Bobo" Correa's conga drums, and the creatively inspired piano of Mary Lou Williams.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:48
2 2:26
3 2:43
5 2:48
6 2:28
7 2:56
8 2:32
9 2:54
10 2:28
11 3:11
12 2:44
13 2:50
14 3:39
15 2:51
16 3:24
17 3:04
18 3:04
feat: Dave Lambert
20 2:45
21 2:50
22 2:50
23 2:24
blue highlight denotes track pick