Mary Lou Williams

Solo Recital (Montreux Jazz Festival 1978)

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Mary Lou Williams was sporadically recorded during most of her career, so her appearance on a 1979 release (two years before her death) as a solo pianist at the 1978 Montreux Jazz Festival was a welcome addition to her discography and ended up being one of her greatest recordings. The opening medley is a history of jazz and includes spiritual, ragtime, gospel, Kansas City swing, boogie-woogie, and bop, all of which Williams plays with authority. Her stunning takes of "Over the Rainbow" and "Tea for Two" are reminiscent of Art Tatum with their rich harmonic sense and fancy flourishes. Williams also delights the audience with fresh looks at her compositions "Little Joe from Chicago" and "What's Your Story, Morning Glory?" Her dramatic blues "Concerto Alone at Montreux" has a dirge-like air. Most of the tracks also appear in the 2004 DVD release of this concert, though "Concerto Alone at Montreux" was omitted. This brilliant live CD should be a part of any jazz piano fan's collection.

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