Miss Mary Lou Williams
“Listen – Mary Lou Williams – The Credo – MP3″
I come to you in mid-week with something unusual.
If you’ve done any reading about the classic years of American jazz*, you probably came across the name Mary Lou Williams.
Williams was – in addition to her skills as a pianist, there are those that rank her among the best – a composer, and teacher who counted none other than Thelonious Monk among her students.
Williams, born in Atlanta in 1910, grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, where she became something of a jazz piano prodigy, playing professionally at the age of 14. As her career progressed, she joined Andy Kirk’s Cloud of Joy (mainly as a composer and arranger). It was with Kirk that she ended up in Kansas City during that city’s prime jazz years.
She made her first recordings in the early 30s, and spent much of the next two decades writing and arranging for a number of bands (including Duke Ellington’s) and playing in nightclubs and on the radio in New York City. It was in New York that she crossed paths with many of the movers and shakers of BeBop. Including Monk and Dizzy Gillespie.
Williams spent much of the 50s and 60s composing, arranging and playing jazz with religious themes, much of which was released on her own Mary Records.
‘The Credo’ – I’m not sure if this directly corresponds with the movement of the same title in ‘Mary Lou’s Mass’ – is a great slice of laid back, funky piano, with a throbbing bass, and soulful keyboard work by Williams. ‘The Credo’ sounds to me like it comes from the period of 1970 – 1974 when Williams was releasing ‘Mary Lou’s Mass’, ‘Music For Peace’ and ‘Zoning’ (all sought after by fans of jazzy grooves).
Williams passed away in 1981.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll see you all on Friday.
*Or, if you grew up in my house, where my Dad gave me a serious education on jazz, up to and including female pianists (like Mary Lou Williams and Marian McPartland) he admired
PS Remember, the Asbury Park 45 Sessions returns this Friday October 3rd with the AP45 Crew and guest selectors TBA. Come on down to the World Famous Asbury Lanes.