Mary Lou Williams, whose arrangements for Andy Kirk were among the most prescient of the swing era, never led her own big band. In 1967, Duke Ellington lent her his—no mere act of gallantry, because he was probably eyeing her as a potential replacement for Billy Strayhorn, who'd died that year. Ellington never got around to recording any of the pieces he commissioned from Williams or adding any of them to his concert book, which is both a shame and a mystery, because the four premiered on the Dutch... More >>>