Scot Danforth | Knoxville, TN | 07/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Duke Ellington famously said that if music sounds good, it is good. Ellington had little interest in dividing jazz from other forms of music, and his heir in this regard was Mary Lou Williams. In her later career, she was determined to show that jazz, gospel, blues, boogie-woogie, and so on can all have common roots. This recording is a concept album for this thesis--and it is brilliant. She is also Ellington's heir at the keyboard: never overplaying, always aware of underlying harmonic structure, she swings like the devil. Even simple material, like her version of "It Ain't Necessarily So" here, gets a new Williams meter (6/8, rather than 4/4) and becomes uniquely her own. Let Mary Lou's synthesis grow on you--you just might find religion!"