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Mary Lou Williams Zodiac Suite
Mary Lou Williams: Zodiac Suite (Smithsonian Folkways [originally Asch], 1945)

When she recorded this trio version of her ambitious 12-part Zodiac Suite, Mary Lou Williams was thought of mostly as a behind-the-scenes player. Here she staked her claim to the top of the bill, emphasizing her powers as a pianist, composer, bandleader, and conceptualist. Powerful as the album is, it doesn’t represent Zodiac’s final form; Williams intended it to be played by larger ensembles. She no doubt would have been pleased to hear the New York Philharmonic’s rendition in 2021, further expanding on the majesty that’s already present here with just piano, bass, and drums. MAC RANDALL

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Learn more about Zodiac Suite on Amazon and Apple Music.