Mary’s Ideas : Umlaut Big Band plays Mary Lou Williams (double CD)


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Since 2011, the Umlaut Big Band has made a specialty of going back to the early decades of jazz to revive the music of the great bands of that era, while commissioning contemporary composers to write new works.

After working on Don Redman in 2018, the Umlaut Big Band continues its series of portraits of forgotten composer-arrangers by focusing on the work of Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981), a prolific musician whose career spanned 50 years of jazz history, constantly open to its transformations.

Initially a pianist and prolific arranger for Andy Kirk’s orchestra, she aroused the curiosity of the public – for women instrumentalists were rare in this male-dominated milieu – and in the 1940s became the mentor of Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell and Dizzy Gillespie. She wrote for Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman on numerous occasions and collaborated with Cecil Taylor, Shafi Hadi and Buster Williams in the 1970s.

The personal archives of Mary Lou Williams, preserved at the Institute of Jazz Studies in Newark, bear the traces of this prolific trajectory. The original manuscripts served as the main source for this project informed by precise historical research. Thus, the Umlaut Big Band allows us to hear numerous compositions written between 1930 and 1981 and never-before-recorded.

Here, for the first time, the work of Mary Lou Williams the composer and arranger, has been considered as a whole. This album was conceived around themes specific to her musical practice: her relationship to the blues, the influence of Kansas City, the rewriting and reinvention of old works, the expression of a point of view on history and a relationship to youth. A reading that we hope will shed new light on an unjustly neglected figure.

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Umlaut Big Band


Antonin Gerbal, Antonin-Tri Hoang, Benjamin Dousteyssier, Geoffroy Gesser, Pierre Borel, Pierre-Antoine Badaroux, Sébastien Beliah


Pierre-Antoine Badaroux
Antonin-Tri Hoang
Pierre Borel
Geoffroy Gesser
Benjamin Dousteyssier
Brice Pichard
Pauline Leblond
Gabriel Levasseur
Emil Strandberg
Michaël Ballue
Alexis Persigan
Robinson Khoury
Judith Wekstein
Matthieu Naulleau
Romain Vuillemin
Sébastien Beliah
Antonin Gerbal
Liselotte Schricke
Sylvain Devaux
Ricardo Rapoport
Nicolas Josa
Hugo Boulanger
Aliona Jacquet
Clémence Meriaux
Stéphanie Padel
Manon Philippe
Lucie Pierrard
Emilie Sauzeau
Léo Ullman
Issey Nadaud
Elsa Seger
Félicie Bazelaire
Elsa Guiet


Umlaut Big Band



  1. History of Jazz for Wind Symphony: Introduction – Suffering 02:00
  1. Chunka Lunk 03:18
  2. New Musical Express 02:41
  3. Just an Idea (Mary’s Idea) 04:22
  4. Medi No.2 04:45
  5. Truth 03:24
  6. Aries 03:28
  1. The Count (Thomas Gordon) 03:33
  2. Harmony Blues (Bennie Moten) 02:49
  3. Mary’s Idea (1930) 02:53
  4. After You’ve Gone  (Henry Creamer & Turner Layton) 03:31
  5. Body and Soul (Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, Frank Eyton & Johnny Green) 02:54
  6. Mary Steps Out 02:52
  1. Gjon Mili’s Jam Session 03:55
  2. Sweet Georgia Brown (Kenneth Casey, Ben Bernie & Maceo Pinkard) 03:56
  3. Stardust (big band version) (Mitchel Parish & Hoagy Carmichael) 03:12
  4. Lonely Moments (1943) 04:39
  5. Sleepy Valley 02:42
  1. Kool 02:57
  2. Conversation (Leonard Feather) 03:09
  3. Scorpio 03:29
  4. Untitled Incidental Music (excerpts) 04:13


  1. Fill the Cup 03:22
  2. Blue Skies (Irving Berlin) 03:05
  3. Joe (Milton Orent & Mary Lou Williams) 02:23
  4. O.W. 03:27
  1. Mary’s Idea (1938) 03:51
  2. Stardust (trio) (Parish & Carmichael) 03:10
  3. Lonely Moments (1946) 03:47
  4. Ghost of Love (Jack Lawrence & Williams) 03:02
  1. Fifth Dimension 03:28
  2. Earl’s Boogie 03:18
  3. Roll ‘Em 10:32
  1. Taurus 03:01
  2. Aquarius 03:34
  3. Virgo 04:12
  1. History of Jazz for Wind Symphony: Spiritual #1 – Spiritual #2 01:50
  2. Fandangle 01:53
  3. Zoning Fungus II 07:52
  4. Chief Natoma From Tacoma 03:58
  5. Shafi (Shafi Hadi & Williams) 03:28
  6. Rosa Mae (Gracie Glassman & Williams) 04:08


Recorded January 23-27, 2021, at Philharmonie de Paris, France and mixed by Baptiste Chouquet /B media, assisted by Jean Viardo, Francesco Parolo
Mastering: Benjamin Joubert
Artwork and graphic design: Bonnefrite
Produced by Nawel Benziane and Pierre-Antoine Badaroux
Coproduced by Philharmonie de Paris, la vie brève – Théâtre de l’Aquarium, Umlaut Records, with support from Mary Lou Williams Foundation, Inc.

Umlaut Big Band
Pierre-Antoine Badaroux: direction, saxophone
Antonin-Tri Hoang, Pierre Borel, Geoffroy Gesser, Benjamin Dousteyssier: reeds
Brice Pichard, Pauline Leblond, Gabriel Levasseur, Emil Strandberg: trumpet
Michaël Ballue, Alexis Persigan, Robinson Khoury, Judith Wekstein: trombone
Matthieu Naulleau: piano
Romain Vuillemin: guitar, banjo
Sébastien Beliah: double bass
Antonin Gerbal: drums

Umlaut Chamber Orchestra conducted by Pierre- Antoine Badaroux (on Roll ‘Em and excerpts from the Zodiac Suite)
Liselotte Schricke: flute
Sylvain Devaux: oboe
Geoffroy Gesser: clarinet, bass clarinet
Antonin-Tri Hoang: clarinet
Pierre Borel: tenor saxophone
Ricardo Rapoport: bassoon
Brice Pichard: trumpet
Nicolas Josa: french horn
Michaël Ballue: trombone
Hugo Boulanger, Aliona Jacquet, Clémence Meriaux, Stéphanie Padel, Manon Philippe, Lucie Pierrard, Emilie Sauzeau, Léo Ullman: violin
Issey Nadaud, Elsa Seger: viola
Félicie Bazelaire, Elsa Guiet: cello
Matthieu Naulleau: piano
Sébastien Beliah: double bass
Antonin Gerbal: drums