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critical reviews

item"If there is one piano hero that Williams really deserves to be aligned with, it is the keyboard colossus of them all, Art Tatum, with whom she shares a gargantuan appetite for focused, meaningful pianistics" -The Guardian, UK

item"If you haven't picked up a copy of this amazingly prodigious pianist's album, you are depriving yourself of a musical experience that just might make your year" -Time Out, New York

item"Jessica Williams is one of the top jazz pianists of the 90's. She is a powerful virtuoso whose complete control of the keyboard, wit, solid sense of swing and the influence of Thelonious Monk have combined to make her a particularly notable player" - All Music Guide, U.S.A.

 

gratitude
GRATITUDE - Jessica Williams, solo piano - Recorded at White Horse Studios, Portland, Oregon, 20th- 21st June 1995; Candid Records

 

  1. The Sheikh
  2. I Cover The Waterfront
  3. Mr. Syms
  4. Serenata
  5. Justice
  6. Round Midnight
  7. Like Sonny
  8. Nice Work If You Can Get It
  9. Last Trane

Photos by Elaine Arc

 

higher standards
HIGHER STANDARDS - Jessica Williams - CCD79736 - Recorded at White Horse Studios, Portland Oregon

 

  1. Get Out of Town
  2. When Your Lover Has Gone
  3. Mack The Knife
  4. A Night In Tunisia
  5. Don't Take Your Love From Me
  6. East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)
  7. Solitude
  8. Midnight Sun
  9. My Heart Belongs to Daddy

Jessica Williams (piano)  Dave Captein (bass)  Mel Brown (drums)

Photos by Elaine Arc

critical reviews

itemArguably the greatest living jazz piano improviser, Jessica Williams is best  known for her dazzling solo performances, epitomized on her last album for CANDID Gratitude (CCD 79721). Here she puts on the style in a trio situation with two of her own men: drummer Mel Brown, who studied under Jessica's own mentor, Philly Joe Jones, and bassist Dave Captein.

As you would expect from someone as demanding as Jessica, both swing like mad.

Higher Standards isn't just a reference to her incredible skills:  in line with her mischievous sense of fun it's also a reference to the choice of well-loved material. It is what Jessica does with  East of the Sun or Solitude which is the key to her  uncanny reputation.

 

jazz in the afternoon
JAZZ in the AFTERNOON - The Jessica Williams Trio- CCD79750  - Recorded live at Chemekata College,Oregon in the series "JAZZ IN THE AFTERNOON"

 

  1. Green Chimneys
  2. I Remember Dexter
  3. Light Blue
  4. Straight, No Chaser
  5. Swanee
  6. I'm Confessin'
  7. Basic Blue
  8. Evidence
  9. Dirty Dog Blues

Jessica Williams (piano),-Dave Captein (bass), -Mel Brown (drums)

critical reviews

itemJAZZ IN THE AFTERNOON is Jessica William's third CANDID release, featuring her in the same trio context as her previous widely  acclaimed HIGHER STANDARDS set, but this time recorded "live" at a College in Oregon. Dave Brubeck 'went to College' on Columbia Records  some four decades ago and likewise this album captures Jessica's trioin full flow, simply enjoying playing jazz to an appreciative audience.

"Were not so much human beings having a spiritual experience as we are spiritual beings having a human experience", says Jessica. Well, the 'human experience' was just right on this particularly lively Sunday afternoon. "Our playing was spontaneous, direct, energetic and honest risks were taken, adrenalin was flowing and smiles were in abundance." Straight No Chaser really typifies what Jessica is all about - a marvellous 13 minute romp through this  Monk classic-chorus after chorus exploring one idea after another.

"The most fun I've had in a good while."

There are plenty of other goodies to savour, Swanee gets the unique Williams treatment in a way Gershwin would not have  expected and we can enjoy what Jessica does best in her stunning, hard swinging delivery of the seldom heard Monk opus Green Chimneys. Monk, the Blues and  Jessica were in perfect harmony on this sparkling Sunday outing.

 

Aint Misbehavin
AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' - Jessica Williams, solo piano - live in concert at the Hollywell Music Room in Oxford, England for Candid Records

 

  1. EL SALVADOR -Jessica Williams
  2. ALONE TOGETHER -Schwartz
  3. THE EULIPIANS -Rahsaan Roland Kirk
  4. PAUL'S PAL -Sonny Rollins
  5. TOO YOUNG TO GO STEADY -McHugh
  6. BLACK DIAMOND -Rahsaan
  7. DON'T BLAME ME -McHugh
  8. JOYFUL SORROW -Jessica Williams
  9. AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' -Fats Waller
  10. AFTER THE RAIN -John Coltrane

 

itemLINER NOTES BY JESSICA WILLIAMS

'The human imagination leaps to form the whole, to complete the scene in order to make sense of it. The instantaneous way this is done shows how we are driven to construct the remainder of the scene. To fill the gaps is essential if the scene is to have meaning .That we may do this in misleading ways - at times, in neurotic or paranoid ways - does not gainsay the central point. Our passion for form expresses our yearning to make the world adequate to our needs and desires, and, more important, to experience ourselves as having significance.'

-Rollo May, from "The Courage to Create"

My passion for form, for discovering meaning and 'filling in the gaps', is an insatiable and long standing character trait. It's true; I find deep significance in a well-played improvisation, in an esthetic perfection that weds the grace of a peaceful soul with the rough-hewn asymmetry of a restless one. My music has as many sides as I do, including some still in the production stage.

This music, the music as I've come to think of it, is too vast for much ego. There's a lot to listen to and a lot to learn. The terrain of Improvised American Classical Music is as wide and as deep as the Pacific Ocean and over-inflated ego is the surest way to capsize on its waters. So I try to trust my intuition, my subconscious, my purest self; unobstructed by intellectual concerns. When I write about it I may get wordy...but when I play it, it's just me when I'm real.

If I hadn't become a musician, I may have wound up being a therapist or social worker. Something that involved healing. We all need healing at various stages in our lives, and I think that the people in "help-professions" are very lucky and very important. In my own life, two forces have been entirely responsible for my psychic health: music and love. As I mature, I see that they may be the same thing.

Just as Rollo May said: to experience ourselves as having significance.

LOVE, because it reflects ourselves bodily and spiritually; it allows us to fill in the gaps, and MUSIC, because it allows us to experience ourselves in a more perfect world.

Music is a world to me, a Utopia where tones have color and notes have shapes, where form is function and time is eternal. I "go away" to a place that's safe and warm for me. Imagine my j oy when I finally realized that lots of other folks could go to that place with me!

Alone no more!

Significance!

This piano is a gateway, a translator, a time-machine. An entity of atoms and molecules, of wood and steel, a vehicle that provides transportation to a Universe where things still make sense, where politicians, phone-bills, mortgages and urban crime are nothing but shadow, memories. Reality Redux, a purer, simpler existence.

Steeped in the wisdom of Coltrane, the humor of Monk, the starkness of Miles and the floridity of Tatum, who has time for mutual funds, lap-tops, and web-sites?

So my future is set, my fate is sealed. I guess I feel about as significant as any human being has a right to feel. It's me and this piano and all the courageous people that follow along with me on my outings. And there's absolutely no reason why we can't bring pieces of that other world, that other Universe, back with us.

Sometimes people can't feel the music. Hopefully, they'll feel the love. The music will follow.

Music and love--- Jessica Wiiliams

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