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chuck stewart photo essay, 1957
mary lou pictureI believe this session was done at the old Capitol Records studio on 46th Street. I did a lot of recording session work back then, mostly for producers. I did a lot for Roulette Records—I think the ten of Roulette's first 15 releases used my work. Things were a lot different in those days. Photographing recording sessions was easier then. Musicians rehearsed a number and then recorded it. You were free to take pictures during the rehearsal.

I was kind of excited about this shoot as I'd never done anything with Mary Lou Williams before. She was already a legend. She could almost do no wrong. Mary Lou Williams was very low key, very quiet. She knew what she wanted.

Melba Liston, who can be seen in one of the photographs, did the arrangements and most of the talking. I first met Melba when she was playing with Dizzy Gillespie's big band. Mary Lou worked with Melba to do what Melba asked her to do. It is unusual for artists of Mary Lou Williams' stature to kind of give themselves over to someone to work out a recording. Theirs was true working relationship.

Chuck Stewart, October 2000

***

Note: Also seen in this photo series are drummer Ed Thigpen and Roulette Records producer Rudy Trayner. Music from this session was never released.

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dot Religious Conversion

dot Lioness in Winter

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