Mary Lou Williams - Turning The Tables A groundbreaking composer, bandleader and arranger who remained "perpetually contemporary" and mentored countless jazz greats.

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. Gilles Petard/Redferns hide caption

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Gilles Petard/Redferns

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. Donaldson Collection/Getty Images hide caption

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Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

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. Metronome/Getty Images hide caption

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Metronome/Getty Images

Mary Lou Williams, Missionary Of Jazz

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Mary Lou Williams began arranging in 1929. By 1942, she was among the most renowned arrangers in the business. Bettmann/Bettmann Archive hide caption

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Bettmann/Bettmann Archive