With a career spanning more than half a century, Mary Lou Williams was a jazz innovator with a singular sound who didn’t belong to any particular jazz style. As a pianist, arranger, and prolific composer, she contributed to some of the swing era’s greatest recordings, and played an essential role in the rise of bebop and modern jazz in the 1940s. Sought out by the greatest bandleaders as an arranger, including Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, she wrote ingenious charts for jazz’s most vivid improvisers. A mesmerizing performer and generous to a fault, she served as mentor to modernists including Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis. Her extraordinary legacy places her amongst the jazz’s greatest figures. Pianist Tammy Hall salutes the remarkable Mary Lou Williams.
Tammy is known for her warm and intuitive mix of jazz, classical, and gospel approaches, and has collaborated with Mary Wilson, David “Fathead” Newman and Ernestine Anderson, among many others. She was a featured guest on NPR’s Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland, and is a dedicated educator, working extensively with SFJAZZ’s education department, SFUSD, Stanford Jazz Workshop, the Musically Minded Academy, and more. She has led or co-led a number of albums under her name including her latest, Blue Soul.