REFLECTIONS - Jessica Williams, solo piano, Recorded at home on her Yamaha C-7 in 2011
1. Little Angel 5.37 (Jessica Williams)
2. Maiden Voyage 7.52 (Herbie Hancock)
3. Neda 6.17 (Jessica Williams)
4. Spoken Softly 6.07 (Jessica Williams)
5. Improvisation 7.57 (Jessica Williams)
6. Will o' the Wisp 8.37 (Manuel de Falla)
7. Shaitan 6.57 (Jessica Williams)
8. Dear John 7.07 (Jessica Williams)
Little Angel was written for my Boston Terrier, Angel, who is also the label's mascot and my most loyal familiar.
I played Maiden Voyage with Freddie Hubbard one night at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco, and have never forgotten (or gotten over) the experience.
Neda is for Neda Agha-Soltan, the fearless woman who was shot dead by Iranian thugs during the Tehran election process.
Spoken Softly is for the great drummer and soft-spoken man of miracles, Tony Tillman Williams, with whom I played with for a short time in 1978.
Improvisation is my constant call for an awakening to the need to become part of our ecology rather than seeking to enslave it, as we are a product of this planetary ecosystem, not the other way around.
Will o' the Wisp is by the great Spanish composer and revolutionary thinker, a man of few fears and many talents, and the composition is mesmerizing and hypnotic. Shaitan (Shai-Hulud) is the Maker, the "Worm", inspired by the classic science-fiction novel "DUNE" by Frank Herbert. It is unrelated to its usual meaning, Satan. In the novel, the Worm is part of a complex ecosystem on the desert planet Arrakis.
Finally, Dear John is my dedication to John Coltrane, who remains a continual source of inner strength and moral clarity in this time of catastrophic change and flagrant disregard for the laws of nature.
Photos by Elaine Arc, Tom Westerlin
February 2, 2013 7:07:58am: Beautiful cd. I've listened to it 3 times in a row. Unheard of.Keep swingin'! - Fred ___
February 2, 2013 8.41 pm: Dear Jessica, damn good cd - A. ___
March 17, 2013 6.02 am: Jessica, cookin'! I thought you were sick! How yo play that way! - John ___
Hmmm. The Last Monk. Would that infer that I am never ever going to play his music again? His marvelous, miraculous, incredibly inventive music? The music of Thelonious Sphere Monk will reside in my heart, right next to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, and all of the "marshall" teachers I've had through the years. This music is deep. The title simply means that we'll never hear or see the likes of him again on this planet. No one ever could replace him. "THE MONK RUNS DEEP" -and that is the noble truth. And he IS the LAST MONK we will see forever and ever.
The music I've chosen for this compilation was drawn from several sources, mainly out-takes of studio sessions that didn't make it to the final pressing. Sometimes the best of the best gets "left on the cutting-room floor’, and a habit of mine is to squirrel away the recordings that may have been passed by for one reason or another. Sometimes they were first takes. As Picasso said (or it may have been that someone just said that he said it) "the first is always the best, even if it's ugly".
You won't find ugliness here, but you may find a few first takes.
I hope you enjoy this music. It's hard to play and ever so much fun.
Thelonious Sphere Monk was a jazz musician first, last, and always. But there are many many strong currents of European Classical music and a generous peppering of dissonance in much of the "Monk Experience". Because you must experience Monk. You just can't sit down and just listen to it. It will sneak up and grab you eventually. It's nature is strong and muscular, but Boo! it's filled with humor and pure fun (as well as undeniable pain and struggle). This is one of our greatest composers, one of our finest musical minds. That his life was less than a happy one at times, riddled by the inexcusable racism of our nation's history - this is not at all "over" as some politicians would have us believe - is a sorrow. We can only enjoy his message, celebrate his own victory over oppression and downright ignorance, and make sure that gifts such as his are met with welcoming love and supportive intent in the future. His gift is full of joy and hope and love. So we should be. -Jessica Williams, Feb 2nd, 2013.
Released by Red and Blue Recordings PO Box 2391, Lacey, WA 98507,USA
Trio track is Jeff Johnson b, Mel Brown dr.
CoverArt by Painter Boris Chaliapin