WEST HARTFORD — Brian Q. Torff, a professor of music at Fairfield University and jazz bassist, will discuss the influence of blues on legendary jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams at Noah Webster Library on Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Williams was a pioneer in the evolution of jazz and popular American music whose development as an artist was profoundly influenced by both modern and traditional blues. In this interactive presentation featuring audio and video clips, Torff, who played with Williams, will analyze the significant role of the blues in her life and work.
“Composer, arranger, and pianist Mary Lou Williams achieved and maintained a status that many women in jazz have found elusive: unwavering respect from her male colleagues and treatment as a musical equal. A swinging, percussive player, she was a major force in the development of Kansas City swing and the bebop revolution,” reads NPR’s Jazz Profile of Williams.
Williams was also featured in the popular NPR series “8 Women Who Invented American Popular Music.”
Born in Atlanta and raised in Pittsburgh, Mary Lou Williams taught herself how to play the piano and performed in public by the time she was six. She composed for the New York Philharmonic, arranged for Duke Ellington and taught a number of jazz behemoths including Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis.
Torff is currently the music program director at Fairfield University. He is a featured bass soloist, leading his own trio, and was the musical director for the Django Reinhardt New York Festival, which has appeared at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and Birdland in New York City. During his 45-year career in jazz, he’s played with many of the greatest jazz talents of the century and performed in festivals all over the world.
Registration is required, online at https://westhartford.librarymarket.com/events/soul-soul-blues-mary-lou-williams-nwl or by phone, 860-561-6990.
There is library event parking in the nearby Isham Garage. Please bypass the garage kiosks and come directly to the Noah Webster Library Meeting Room, 20 South Main Street, where you may validate your parking with your license plate number.