W. Eugene Smith/Time & Life Pictures
The lady who swings the band.
The lady who swings the band. W. Eugene Smith/Time & Life Pictures
She was one of the swingin'-est people I've ever played with. I mean, she would swing you into bad health.
That's the good Dr. Billy Taylor on Mary Lou Williams, whom he met in New York in the 1940s. You know, around the time she was mentoring Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, and arranging for Duke Ellington, and writing tunes for Dizzy Gillespie, and, oh, yes, premiering her own Zodiac Suite. Yea.
That's all in a radio profile of the great composer and pianist, who would have been 100 today. As you can hear, the preceding constituted only a small part of an incredible career. NPR is proud to present a glimpse into it here, through these new and archival features: