Anytime stride piano, swing, bebop and yet further developments in jazz styles intermingle, which is to say most times a living jazz pianist plays, the influence of Mary Lou Williams gets felt.
Anytime jazz’s purpose—its essential connection to African American history and culture and to social justice in general, its intellectual search, it spiritual legacy and potential, there is Williams too.
When we speak of Kansas City or Pittsburgh or Greenwich Village or, especially, Harlem, when we talk about how jazz legacies get passed on, how women were always right there, or how any jazz player today might best follow her or his heart, there also is Williams.
I’ll say more about all that in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal, though a story tied to a fascinating two-week celebration of her legacy at Manhattan’s Harlem Stage, and a three-night theatrical production with Geri Allen at the piano.
Allen is perhaps the clearest inheritor today of Williams’s influence and her music, into which she has delved deeply and for decades.
Wednesday morning, March 12, she convenes a rare, wide-ranging and fascinating national symposium that draws upon her touch at the piano, her network of fellow musicians and scholars and online technology.
LINK TO IT LIVE HERE, from 11am-2pm EST. (It will also be archived.) Continue reading “Mary Lou Williams' Harlem Salon Goes Digital”