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Nation & World

The World Of Mary Lou Williams: A Turning The Tables Playlist

Jazz composer and pianist Mary Lou Williams is photographed in 1950.

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music .

When we were diving in to tackle Mary Lou Williams, a revelation (pun intended) emerged: Williams was deeply invested in sacred music. And her understanding of how to expand it to incorporate 20th-century classical music and boogie-woogie blues was not only ahead of its time — it was mastery for any era. We strove to offer such breadth in this collection. In addition to her own piano playing, we've included some of Williams' piano contemporaries like Bud Powell, Fats Waller and her friend Marian McPartland. You'll also hear Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington, for whom Mary Lou Williams helped arrange. We had to include the late Geri Allen, who worked with her "Mary Lou Williams Collective" to tackle the Zodiac Suite. In these 20 tracks, you'll find Williams' prowess as a composer and pianist, as well as proof of her expansive influence on jazz and American music as a whole.

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