Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression

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Mary Lou Williams
Author: 
David Conrads

In a remarkably productive career that spanned a half century, Mary Lou Williams established herself as a pianist, composer, and arranger, an unprecedented feat that has remained an inspiration to women in jazz.

Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy posing on stage for a photo. Musicians include Mary Lou Williams at the piano, John Harrington holding a saxophone, Ben Webster holding a saxophone, Pha Terrell (musical director) holding a conducting baton, John Williams holding a saxophone, Ben Thigpen sitting at a drum set, Harry Lawson holding a trumpet, Ted Brinson holding a guitar, Irving "Mouse" Randolph holding a trumpet, Kirk (leader) sitting next to a tuba, Ted Donnelly holding a trombone, and Earl Thomson holding a trumpet.

Date: 
February 16th 1934

Mary Lou Williams and Andy Kirk looking over an arrangement of "Moten Swing" for Decca Records "Kansas City Jazz" album produced by Dave Dexter. Williams is playing the piano and Kirk is standing next to her, holding music in one hand and a drink in the other hand while looking down.

Date: 
1939

Photograph of Andy Kirk and the Clouds of Joy with Mary Lou Williams at the piano.

10" 78-rpm recording of "The Count", an instrumental fox trot by Thomas Gordon, performed by Andy Kirk And His Clouds Of Joy. Members include Rudy Powell, John Harrington, Dick Wilson, Ed Inge, saxophones; Harry Lawson, Harold Baker, Clarence Trice, trumpets; Theodore Donnelly, Henry Wells, trombones; Mary Lou Williams, piano; Floyd Smith, guitar; Booker T. Collins, bass; Ben Thigpen, drums. Matrix number: 68317AA; Catalog number: 18123 A.

Date: 
November 7th 1940

10" 78-rpm recording of "Twelfth Street Rag", an instrumental fox trot by Euday L. Bowman and James Sumner, performed by Andy Kirk And His Clouds Of Joy. Members include Rudy Powell, John Harrington, Dick Wilson, Ed Inge, saxophones; Harry Lawson, Harold Baker, Clarence Trice, trumpets; Theodore Donnelly, Henry Wells, trombones; Mary Lou Williams, piano; Floyd Smith, guitar; Booker T. Collins, bass; Ben Thigpen, drums. Matrix number: 68318AA; Catalog number: 18123 B.

Date: 
November 7th 1940

10" 78-rpm recording of "Overhand (New Froggy Bottom)", an instrumental composition by Mary Lou Williams, performed by Mary Lou Williams, piano; Booker Collins, bass; Ben Thigpen, drums. Matrix number: 60878A; Catalog number: 3385 A.

Date: 
March 7th 1936

10" 78-rpm recording of "Little Joe From Chicago", a fox trot with vocal ensemble by Mary Lou Williams and Henry Wells, performed by Andy Kirk And His Clouds of Joy featuring Mary Lou Williams on piano. Other instrumentalists include John Williams, John Harrington, saxophones and clarinet; Booker Collins, bass; Ben Thigpen, drums; Henry Wells, Ted Donnelly, trombones; Clarence Trice, Earl Thomson, Harry Lawson, trumpets. Matrix number: 60878A; Catalog number: 3385 A.

Date: 
February 8th 1938
KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY | DIGITAL HISTORY
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865.
The Pendergast Years, Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression.
KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library.