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.”