THE MUSICIAN Mary Lou Williams

Portrait of Mary Lou Williams, New York, N.Y., ca. 1946
Library of Congress

Mary Lou Williams was one of the most innovative, creative, groundbreaking musicians in the history of jazz. She was a brilliant and prolific composer and uniquely gifted pianist whose influence spans nearly the entire timeline of jazz music, but her name is almost never listed among the “giants of jazz.” Although prejudice kept her from achieving the recognition and fame she deserved during her lifetime, her contributions cement her legacy as a true pioneer of American music.

Our guest is Carol Bash, award winning filmmaker and producer and director of the documentary film Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band. You can stream the documentary with your Kanopy subscriber public library card here.

Mary Lou Williams’ collection of papers, scores, photos, notes, etc is available to the public at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University.






All photos by permission of Carol Bash unless otherwise indicated

Carol Bash is an award winning filmmaker with over 15 years of experience in broadcast journalism and independent documentaries. She is the producer and director of the documentary film Mary Loy Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band. Her production company Paradox Films is developing Clean Justice, a feature documentary on the environmental justice movement; and Blueprint For My People, a short film incorporating Margaret Walker’s poem, “For My People” and rare cyanotypes of African Americans in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Most recently, she worked with the award winning Firelight Films as Archival Producer on Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities, which will premier nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens series on February 19, 2018.



Music for this episode included

“Lotta Sax Appeal” with Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy

“The Land of Oobla Dee” with Dizzy Gillespie

“Nightlife”  by Mary Lou Williams

“Roll ‘Em” with the Benny Goodman Orchestra

“Roll ‘Em” and “The Jeep is Jumpin” from Live at Keystone Corner

“Free Spirits” and “Ode to Saint Cecile” from Free Spirits

“Our Father” from Mary Lou’s Mass

“Capricorn” and “Scorpio” from Zodiac Suite

“St. Martin de Porres” from The Black Christ of the Andes

music from the film Mary Lou Williams, the Lady Who Swings the Band


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