Zodiac Suite (CD)



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SKU: UMFR-CD45 Category:


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In 1945, Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981) completed the composition of the Zodiac Suite. Each movement corresponded to an artist’s portrait associated with an astrological sign. It was a pretext to escape the rigidity of the musical forms for which Williams had previously written, and to experiment with the sonorities of the music of European composers such as Berg, Hindemith or Schoenberg.

Although the Suite was composed for piano, Williams undertook to orchestrate it for chamber orchestra. Late in 1945, the public premiere left the composer frustrated,. A close look at Williams’ manuscripts clearly shows that the music that was performed that night does not reflect the composer’s original intentions. Movements had been stripped of their orchestration and performed as solo piano, entire sections had been cut, and multiple errors had not been corrected, due to a lack of time and resources.

A cornerstone of Williams’ artistic life, this legendary work has never been recorded in its original form. After working for several years on the Mary Lou Williams archives, publishing the album Mary’s Ideas (Umlaut Records 2021) and being selected as a Villa Albertine 2023 resident, Pierre-Antoine Badaroux decided to tackle the chamber orchestra version of the Zodiac Suite, in an interpretation that underlines its heterogeneity and its richness.


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Pierre-Antoine Badaroux


Umlaut Big Band


Pierre-Antoine Badaroux
Agathe Peyrat
Chloé Tallet
Guillaume Retail
Geoffroy Gesser
Pierre Fatus
Brice Pichard
Harmonie Moreau
Michaël Ballue
Stéphanie Padel
Florian Perret
Emilie Sauzeau
Raphaël Coqblin
Clémentine Bousquet
Clara Jaszczyszyn
Lucie Pierrard
Elsa Seger
Valentine Garilli
Myrtille Hetzel
Pablo Tognan
Matthieu Naulleau
Sébastien Beliah
Antonin Gerbal


Umlaut Big Band
Umlaut Chamber Orchestra


01. Introduction 00:28
02. I. Aries 02:26
03. II. Taurus 02:48
04. III.Gemini 03:29
05. IV. Cancer 04:37
06. V. Leo 02:35
07. VI. Virgo 04:31
08. VII. Libra 03:20
09. VIII. Scorpio 03:37
10. IX. Sagittarius 01:33
11. X. Capricorn 03:18
12. XI. Aquarius 03:25
13. XII. Pisces 03:01


Music by Mary Lou Williams.
Pierre-Antoine Badaroux: direction
Agathe Peyrat: voice
Chloé Tallet: flute
Guillaume Retail: oboe
Geoffroy Gesser: clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone
Pierre Fatus: bassoon
Brice Pichard: trumpet
Harmonie Moreau: french horn
Michaël Ballue: trombone
Stéphanie Padel, Florian Perret, Emilie Sauzeau, Raphaël Coqblin, Clémentine Bousquet, Clara Jaszczyszyn, Lucie Pierrard: violin
Elsa Seger, Valentine Garilli: viola
Myrtille Hetzel, Pablo Tognan: cello
Matthieu Naulleau: piano
Sébastien Beliah: double bass
Antonin Gerbal: drums

Recording: Tandem, Scène nationale, Arras (FR) – May 24-27, 2023
Engineering and mixing: Baptiste Chouquet/B•media, assisted by Louis Delgrange
Mastering: Benjamin Joubert
Artwork and graphic design: Cabinet d’objets graphiques
Production: Nawel Benziane and Pierre-Antoine Badaroux
Coproduced by Umlaut Records and B•media, with support from Mary Lou Williams Foundation Inc., SCPP, CNM, MMC, Caisse des Dépôts.