Andy Kirk And His Orchestra, including Mary Lou Williams (sitting at the piano), pose for a studio group portrait in 1940. Williams toured with Kirk's band before settling in New York.
Mary Lou Williams in 1942. In the 1930s and '40s, her apartment on 63 Hamilton Terrace formed an important space in advancing the evolution of jazz and the survival of musicians.
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Jazz helped Mary Lou Williams stay alive — but after several draining decades as a musician, she quit the scene. When she returned, she claimed her true power as one of jazz's fiercest advocates.