Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band is a documentary about the life and music of one of the greatest jazz pianists, composers and arrangers who has remained largely unknown…until now.
Working at a time when women were expected to stay at home and raise children, Mary Lou Williams forged her own path and created some of the most sophisticated big band hits for Andy Kirk, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and many other popular orchestras in the 1930s and ʻ40s. She was truly a woman who swung the band. In the 1950s, bebop jazz icons regularly visited her Harlem apartment to gain knowledge and inspiration. And in the 1970s, Mary Lou Williams took jazz in whole new direction. But away from the piano, Williams was a woman in a “manʼs world,” a black person in a “whites only” society, an ambitious artist who dared to be different and struggled against the imperatives of being a “star.” Above all, she did not fit the prevailing notions of what genius looks like. Time and again, she pushed back against a world that said, “You canʼt” and said, “I can.” It nearly cost her everything.
A film by Paradox Films, Produced and Directed by Carol Bash
A special solo piano performance by pianist/composer Geri Allen
Post-screening discussion with Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, Carol Bash and Geri Allen, Moderated by Greg Thomas
Presented in partnership with Paradox Films and Firelight Media,with support from the
Black Documentary Collective and the Documentary Forum at the City College of New York
7:30–7:50 p.m.: Solo Piano Performance by Geri Allen
7:50–9 p.m.: FIlm Screening
9–9:30 p.m.: Panel Discussion with Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, Carol Bash and Geri Allen—Moderated by Greg Thomas
9:30–10 p.m.: Reception
Performance Length: 2 Hours
Age requirement: 18+
Seating Arrangement: Riser Seating
Getting tickets here
Harlem Stage Gatehouse, 150 Convent Avenue (at West 135th Street), New York, NY 10031, http://www.harlemstage.org