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Harlem Stage Hosts Geri Allen's Mary Lou Williams Tribute, Now thru 3/15

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Harlem Stage Hosts Geri Allen's Mary Lou Williams Tribute, Now thru 3/15

World-renowned composer and pianist Geri Allen presents "A Conversation with Mary Lou: Geri Allen Celebrates Mary Lou Williams" a new music and spoken-word tribute to the legacy of jazz groundbreaker Mary Lou Williams. Featuring vocalist/actress Carmen Lundy, bassist Kenny Davis, drummer Kassa Overall. Directed by award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson ("Law & Order").

Commissioned by Harlem Stage, this three-night event recreates an intimate visit with Williams -- set in a recreation of her Harlem sitting room, and using her words and music to bring audiences through the annals of jazz as she both experienced and created it. Allen performs works by Williams, as well as her own compositions; Lundy embodies Williams onstage, speaking her words and singing from her extensive catalogue. "A Conversation with Mary Lou" features a script by Farah Jasmine Griffin.

A seminal figure in the history of American jazz, Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981) was a pianist, composer and arranger for bandleaders including Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, and was a mentor and peer - as well as a champion of, and inspiration to - Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Dr. Billy Taylor, John Malachi, Dizzy Gillespie and many others. Her own innovative work helped to establish the bridge from swing to bebop. Williams' remarkable career spanned eight decades, starting when she was a young girl, playing for Jelly Roll Morton, and culminating as a Grande Dame of jazz, championing and performing with Cecil Taylor in the 1970s, as she had with Monk and Taylor in the '40s and '50s.

Set for tonight, Friday and Saturday, March 13-15, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. Performance approx. 90 minutes with no intermission. Opening Night reception for ticketholders: March 13. Post-performance discussion for ticketholders: March 15. It all takes place at The Harlem Stage Gatehouse, 150 Convent Avenue @ 135th Street. MTA: A, B and C to 135th Street; 1 to 137th Street. Tickets: $45. Online at www.harlemstage.org or by phone at 212-281-9240 x19.

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