It’s been a minnit, I know, but the last eight weeks has been a bit of a time, which is to say that big changes are afoot, but getting on the good foot, I should have the time and mental energy to resume the coverage here and there’s much to cover on the NEO scene in the very near future. So let’s get right to it.
It wouldn’t be inaccurate to call pianist, composer and bandleader Mary Lou Williams the Zelig of jazz. At every crucial turn of the music’s early history, she was on the scene writing, playing and teaching many of the most pivotal figures in mid-century jazz Yet the spotlight always evaded her.
No more. The recent efforts of the jazz establishment to recognize the achievements of women yield new and long-overdue revelations of her multi-valent genius, not just in the jazz capitals of the world, but in Northeast Ohio, too. Pianist Theron Brown and the Akron Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Christopher Wilkins add to the momentum Saturday with a concert presentation of five movements from Williams’ “Zodiac Suite.”
It could just be a case of wishful thinking, but the terrific things I’m hearing about this past weekend’s inaugural Hingetown Jazz Festival show what can happen when top-flight musicians, welcoming venues and tireless, community-minded organizers come together to meet audiences where they are. Who wouldn’t be stoked for the future?