[Dixielandjazz] Mary Lou Williams

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Oct 15 08:09:57 PDT 2010

> From: eupher61 at hotmail.com wrote (polite snip)
>  Mary Lou probably had 20-25 years, from the Clouds of Joy in  
> roughly /29-'30 into the 50s, when she almost single handedly made  
> the jazz scene come back in style in New York.   There were a few  
> years out of circulation, sure, but she had a huge impact on Monk,  
> Diz, and Bird. 		 	   		

Dear Steve:

As a New Yorker at that time, 40s & 50s, I don't think Mary Lou  
Williams "almost single handedly made the jazz scene come back in  
style in New York."

To be sure, she in influenced Bird, Diz and Monk, and likewise they  
influenced her, however the jazz scene was always viable and in style  
in New York during the 40s and 50s. That's from personal experience as  
I was hard put to figure out which jazz band, among many, I was going  
to see in my spare time. Jazz was, as I have read, also in style in  
NYC during the 1930s

What she (and they) did during that period was expand the language of  
jazz, in evolutionary fashion.

I think many of us tend to dismiss the later influence of Ellington  
and Armstrong too easily. From personal experience again, I can state  
that when Ellington as in town, all the musicians in NYC went to hear  
that band. That includes the classical guys, and the Juilliard  
teachers, people like Leonard Bernstein et al. They went there to hear  
what was new and learn from it.

Same for when Louis was in town.

And yes, same for Monk. or Ornette Coleman or Cecil Taylor at the Five  
Spot in Cooper Square.

What was new with Louis? Well, his vocals, his phrasing etc. Nobody  
can quite match that even today. His improv? Well, we can all diss  
"Hello Dolly" as meaningless pap, but listen to what HE plays on it.   
And how he plays it.

Steve Barbone

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