The first lady of jazz? Certainly one of the most overlooked if not under appreciated jazz musicians male or female. The incredible Virginia Mayhew Quartet take on the Williams discography with special guest trombonist Wycliffe Gordon.
Celebrating the centennial anniversary of Williams birth finds Mayhew and her formidable 4tet in fine form with impeccable arrangements of eight Williams compositions, some surprising finds and two new Mayhew compositions inspired by Mary Lou Williams. The Next 100 Years finds Mayhew's nice fat tenor sound with an infectious swing and dynamic phrasing perfectly complemented by Ed Cherry on guitar along with Harvie S on bass and Andy Watson on drums. Cherry is a Dizzy-alum and adds a delightful texture with his blues infused lines that work to add that extra kick to a 4tet that needs precious little prodding for stellar results.
"J.B.'s Waltz" is one of those subtle blues infused gems that has an infectious lyrical swing. Mayhew showcases her keen melodic sense of timing and that special sound some tenor players work their entire career for and never find. Harvie S is one of the finest if not hardest working lyrical bassists and shows off his prolific gift on "O.W." While the sound is predictable in the sense of a blues infused swing there is a nice texture and great flow to a recording that more than pays homage to Mary Lou Williams but is a tip of the musical hat to those that followed in her footsteps as well.
Virgina Mayhew has been a fixture on the New York jazz scene since 1987. Mayhew has worked with countless luminaries, performed as a leader in festivals all over the world and is absolutely the perfect musician to take on a project such as this. Incredibly entertaining from beginning to end. A true sleeper that one should not allow to sneak past them.
Tracks: J.B.'s Waltz; Medi II; Medi I; O.W.; Cancer; What's Your Story, Morning Glory; N.M.E; Waltz Boogie; One For Mary Lou; For Mary Lou.
Personnel: Virginia Mayhew: tenor saxophone; Ed Cherry: guitar; Harvie S: bass; Andy Watson: drums.