Mary Lou Williams (1910-81) worked in vaudeville in the '20s, was a star soloist and accomplished arranger during the swing era, and a featured performer in Manhattan during the 1940s. Williams became devoutly religious and gave up performing, only to return to music in the '60s with spiritually inspired jazz albums. So, is it any wonder that modern trumpet star Dave Douglas has fashioned this fascinating homage to the grand lady of jazz piano?
While "Soul on Soul" has only five Williams compositions, the entire album is imbued with her indomitably swinging spirit. "Aries" is taken from Williams' "Zodiac Suite," which was composed in 1945 but sounds as progressive as anything written since. Douglas and his sidemen invigorate the remarkable artist's classic work, putting together an impressive tribute.