Mary Lou Williams is an important and often overlooked link in the story of Jazz. She was one of the first women to take the stage and own the spotlight. Her compositions and arrangements remain fresh and modern even today. She was more than a performer; she was the tireless supporter for those carrying jazz forward. She was likely responsible for the discovery of Charlie Christian and set in motion the events that placed him and that new(ish) electric guitar on the largest stage for jazz at that time; Benny Goodman's small groups.
The Gardenia Society is the social outreach of The Billie Holiday Memorial Foundation which was established in 1972. Nicole Holiday formed the foundation upon the release of the movie "Lady Sings The Blues". The portrayal of Billie was considered one-sided and sensational, portraying her as a powerless victim. This was not the case. Billie was a strong, independent woman that would readily own her failings and responsibility while living by the lyric, "Don't Explain". We love Billie and seek to widen our musical interests into other genres while focusing on the heart of the performer.
Calvin Keys remains among the top jazz guitarists of all time. His career spans from the late 60's to today. As a competent and sought-after side-man to confident leader; he has played everywhere and with almost everyone. Through it all, he embodies Pure Joy.