In today’s Gospel reading (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus shares a parable featuring an unnamed rich man and Lazarus (not the raised from the dead Lazarus), a man so poor “[d]ogs even used to come and lick his sores” (NASB, USCCB Internet on 4 March 2021). Suffice it to say, the unnamed rich man in the parable couldn’t quit digging a spiritual hole for himself!
Mary Lou Williams, a brilliant American pianist, arranger, and composer included the selection below, “Lazarus,” in what came to be known as “Mary Lou’s Mass,” but formally known as “Music for Peace,” a religious jazz Catholic Mass setting. In addition to her sheer brilliance in the field, she also blazed trails as a woman and African-American.
I first heard the song, you guessed it, in a Dennis Dillon, SJ, homily.
A Jesuit, Peter O’Brien, SJ, served as manager and archivist for Ms. Williams as she reclaimed her musical, spiritual, and inspirational strength after a debilitating period in her life. Her legacy influenced diverse artists such as the late Professor Geri Allen, a jazz pianist with Detroit roots, a UM PhD and professor, and too early death while Director of Jazz Studies at Pitt, and the late Jim Dapogny, another UM Professor of Music Theory, Chicago jazz artist and compositional researcher & re-creator extraordinaire. In a private conversation and in response to my (clueless) prompt, Dapogny once shared that he looked for inspiration to Williams’ hands for balance and lyricism on the keyboard.