Pitt Honors Jazz Legend With ‘The Lady Who Swings the Band’

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From November 2nd through November 7th, the University of Pittsburgh will host its annual Jazz Seminar and Concert, which will feature numerous free activities, including lunchtime concerts, on-campus seminars, and an outreach event in the Hill District. On November 3rd, the festival will also present a free screening of Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band, an award-winning film about the life and music of a jazz great.

The one-hour documentary from filmmaker Carol Bash traces the life and music of renowned jazz pianist, composer, and arranger Mary Lou Williams. At a time when women were expected to stay home and raise children, Williams forged a career creating some of the most sophisticated big band hits for Andy Kirk, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and other bands of the 1930s. Raised in East Liberty, Williams taught herself to play the piano and had a gig with Ellington by the time she was 13. She was also a mentor to many up-and-coming musicians of that era, including Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell.

The Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band screening will take place at 6 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. Bash will discuss the film prior to showtime at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

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