Zoning (Mary Lou Williams album)

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Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 1974
RecordedJan-Mar 1974
VenueNew York
StudioA & R Studios
LabelMary Records / Smithsonian Folkways
ProducerMary Lou Williams, Peter F. O'Brien
Mary Lou Williams chronology
From the Heart
Free Spirits
CD version (1995)
Professional ratings
Review scores
The Penguin Guide to Jazz[2]
The Rolling Stone Jazz & Blues Album Guide[3]
The Virgin Encyclopedia of Jazz[4]

Zoning is a studio album by American jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams, released in 1974 by Mary Records. It was arranged by Williams and features her in duo and trio settings, mostly with bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Mickey Roker. In 1995, Smithsonian Folkways reissued the album on compact disc with a different track listing, new cover art, and two previously unreleased recordings.


Upon its release in 1974, Zoning was consistently well received. Jazz critic Gary Giddins chose it as one of the Ten Best Albums of the year in his Village Voice column.[5] In an earlier review, he said that Williams "has been opening doors onto the future for almost 40 years; 'Zoning,' a subtle study of her piano playing and writing is no different; it took me a while to get into, but now I find her melodies floating through my mind like breezes through a summer door."[6]

Phyl Garland at Ebony magazine called Zoning a "dynamite album" and said, "As the true mistress of her art, she spans all musical generations and as a leader of the pack in any era, she always has played the 'new music.' How anyone could sound this fresh after 50 years at the keyboard is almost beyond comprehension." Garland referred to Williams as "the first lady of jazz" and praised her "adventuresome spirit" in "Zoning Fungus II," where "she employs atonal harmonies before settling down to a steady funky base. This is music for a woman of all seasons, from the pensive Ellingtonian drift of Ghost of Love, through the sophisticated instrumental shouts of Praise the Lord and the contemporary soulful insistence of Play It Momma."[7]

Billboard said, "With her masterful touch and ability to compose genius, this is a very welcome album to any listener's collection." They highlighted "Medi I" and "Medi II" among Best Cuts and praised her "incredible sidemen."[8]

Reviewing the 1995 CD reissue, Scott Yanow at Allmusic called Zoning "one of her finest recordings of her later years." He said Williams "sounds 40 years younger, shows the influence of McCoy Tyner, and hints at free jazz in spots. An often surprising set of modern jazz."[1]

Track listing[edit]

Side 1[edit]

  1. "Intermission" (Mary Lou Williams, Milton Suggs) - 1:26
  2. "Holy Ghost" (Larry Gales) - 5:20
  3. "Zoning Fungus II" (Williams) - 6:48
  4. "Ghost of Love" (Williams) - 4:52
  5. "Medi II" (Williams) - 2:03
  6. "Gloria" (Williams, Robert Ledogar) - 6:23

Side 2[edit]

  1. "Rosa Mae" (Williams, Gales) - 4:27
  2. "Olinga" (Dizzy Gillespie) - 3:59
  3. "Praise the Lord" (Williams) - 6:35
  4. "Play It Momma" (Williams) - 3:52
  5. "Medi I" (Williams) - 4:50

CD Version (1995)[edit]

  1. "Syl-O-Gism" (Gales) - 3:27 (previously unreleased)
  2. "Olinga" (Gillespie) - 4:04
  3. "Medi II" (Williams) - 2:07
  4. "Gloria" (Williams, Ledogar) - 4:38 (previously unreleased)
  5. "Intermission" (Williams, Suggs) - 2:22
  6. "Zoning Fungus II" (Williams) - 6:51
  7. "Holy Ghost" (Gales) - 5:24
  8. "Medi I" (Williams) - 4:55
  9. "Rosa Mae" (Williams, Gales) - 4:37
  10. "Ghost of Love" (Williams) - 4:37
  11. "Praise the Lord" (Williams) - 6:37
  12. "Gloria" (Williams, Ledogar) - 6:35
  13. "Play It Momma" (Williams) - 4:22



1995 reissue compiled and produced by Matt Walters.


  1. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. Zoning at AllMusic
  2. ^ Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2004). The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (7th ed.). London: Penguin. ISBN 9780141014166.
  3. ^ Swenson, John, ed. (1999). "Mary Lou Williams". The Rolling Stone Jazz & Blues Album Guide. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780679768739.
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin (1999). "Mary Lou Williams". The Virgin Encyclopedia of Jazz. Virgin Books. p. 914. ISBN 1852277548.
  5. ^ Giddins, Gary (January 6, 1975). "Looking Backward: 1974". The Village Voice. New York City. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  6. ^ Giddins, Gary (November 21, 1974). "Jazz Repertory and the jazz moment". The Village Voice. New York City. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  7. ^ Garland, Phyl (October 1974). "Sounds". Ebony. Chicago: Ebony Media Operations. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  8. ^ "Top Album Picks" (PDF). Billboard. October 12, 1974. Retrieved March 15, 2019.