12 Songs, 1 Hour 8 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

In July 1975, Mary Lou Williams recorded Free Spirits for the Danish label Steeplechase. Though the date didn’t pay much, it offered her complete creative control. That was of the utmost importance to Williams, who'd endured several decades' worth of barbs from the music business. The trio setting highlights the richness of Williams’ chords, which could evoke an orchestra even when one wasn't present. While Williams’ name is normally associated with the modal jazz innovations, Free Spirits in many ways confirms her as part of the circle that birthed the pivotal mid-'60s work of John Coltrane. Even though her playing always exhibits an element of restraint, songs like “Baby Man,” “Free Spirits," and “Temptation” conduct the same cascading waves of sorrow and freedom that ran through “My Favorite Things” and “A Love Supreme.” Williams was also a rare member of the swing generation who openly embraced and understood funk, and the gorgeous “Ode to Saint Cecile” proves she was one of the few who could play it without a hint of garishness.

EDITORS’ NOTES

In July 1975, Mary Lou Williams recorded Free Spirits for the Danish label Steeplechase. Though the date didn’t pay much, it offered her complete creative control. That was of the utmost importance to Williams, who'd endured several decades' worth of barbs from the music business. The trio setting highlights the richness of Williams’ chords, which could evoke an orchestra even when one wasn't present. While Williams’ name is normally associated with the modal jazz innovations, Free Spirits in many ways confirms her as part of the circle that birthed the pivotal mid-'60s work of John Coltrane. Even though her playing always exhibits an element of restraint, songs like “Baby Man,” “Free Spirits," and “Temptation” conduct the same cascading waves of sorrow and freedom that ran through “My Favorite Things” and “A Love Supreme.” Williams was also a rare member of the swing generation who openly embraced and understood funk, and the gorgeous “Ode to Saint Cecile” proves she was one of the few who could play it without a hint of garishness.

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Ratings and Reviews

5.0 out of 5
5 Ratings

5 Ratings

Seoul Improv ,

A Great Find from the mid-1970s

By this time (1975) Mary Lou had been involved with various projects for the past decade. In addition to chairing the Jazz Studies program at Duke University, she also composed a number of extended works (many of a religious nature). However, she also found time to do recordings and concert appearances in solo, trio, and larger group contexts.

This particular recording matches her with Buster Williams on acoustic bass and Mickey Roker on drums. Both provide marvelous support and interplay with the piano. Buster Williams solos very nicely on more than just few selections. The wide variety of compositions is also a big plus.

As Duke Ellington once quipped about Mary Lou, her piano playing, and composing gifts, she was timeless and without categories when it came to playing jazz, indeed music. She had complete command over every style/era of jazz. This outing is bluesy, swinging, well-improvised, and elegent. I strongly recommend it.

wunderful 1 ,

Really Nice

This is the first cd I've bought by Ms. Williams, not crazy, just slow!
I have a new love.

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