“Anything you are shows up in your music …”
November 16, 2012 4:18 PM   Subscribe

“Her early records are collectors’ items. Her writing and playing have become part of the pattern of jazz history. She has transcended the difficulties experienced by women in the music field and through several decades has held a position of eminence as one of jazz’s most original and creative pianists. She speaks softly: ‘Anything you are shows up in your music—jazz is whatever you are playing yourself, being yourself, letting your thoughts come through.’” Mary Lou Williams: Into The Sun, a conversational profile by fellow pianist Marian McPartland, 1964.

Some of the then-contemporary choral works mentioned in the article:

"Black Christ of the Andes (St Martin de Porres)"
"The Devil"
"Anima Christi"
"Praise The Lord"

A few representative works from throughout her career:

"Little Joe from Chicago," a Mary Lou composition, with Andy Kirk's Twelve Clouds of Joy [1930]
"Night Life," a brilliant stride piano solo [1930]
"Until The Real Thing Comes Along," with Andy Kirk's Twelve Clouds of Joy [1936]
"Roll 'Em," a Mary Lou composition commissioned for the Benny Goodman Orchestra [1937]
A 1944 solo piano session: "Blue Skies," "Caravan," "Yesterdays," "Mary's Boogie," "Drag 'Em," and "St Louis Blues"
From her 1945 "Zodiac" cycle: "Scorpio," Gemini," "Leo," "Cancer," "Libra"
"Cloudy" [1945 or 1946]
"Trumpet No End," an arrangement of "Blue Skies" written by Mary Lou for the Duke Ellington Orchestra [1946]
"In The Land of Oo-Bla-Dee," a Mary Lou composition for Dizzy Gillespie [1949]
"My Blue Heaven" [live, 1960]
"Miss D. D." [1963]
"Autumn Leaves," with Bobby Hackett and Dizzy Gillespie [1971]
From the incredibly diverse album Zoning, which featured everything from Harlem stride to afro-Cuban and jazz funk: "Syl-O-Gism," "Medi I," "Gloria," "Rosa Mae"
"You Know Baby" / "Pittsburgh," a straight-up classic R&B single [1975]
"The Man I Love / Honeysuckle Rose," "Over The Rainbow / Offertory Meditation" [1978]
posted by koeselitz (6 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, thanks, looks interesting.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:23 PM on November 16, 2012

Almost fifteen years after Marian McPartland's article was published, in 1978, she began taping a jazz interview show called "Piano Jazz." She invited Mary Lou Williams to be her guest on the very first episode.

[The article itself is via A Blog Supreme.]
posted by koeselitz at 4:24 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

McPartland's show is great. You can tell the esteem that her guests have for her, and the old jazz guys do not give that lightly. It's the proverbial sitting in the living room radio experience, listening to great musicians reminiscing and playing tunes together.
posted by thelonius at 4:27 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is excellent. I've long been a big Mary Lou Williams fan.
posted by OmieWise at 6:54 PM on November 16, 2012

Mary Lou Williams is the Paul Erdos of Swing Era jazz. Between her playing, composing, arranging and philanthropic work she touched just about everyone active in the music scene of the time (and beyond).
posted by tommasz at 5:33 AM on November 17, 2012

Thanks a lot, this is a long awaited post : she seemed a very interesting figure to me, but I didn't know where to start. So thanks again.
posted by nicolin at 6:16 AM on November 17, 2012

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