Jessica Williams, jazz pianist, composer

CURRENTS: Table of Contents

Recent | Poetry | Music | Other | Other other

1. Recent writings

My writing and poetry span a 55-year period. Escape here

  1. Eulogy for Leroy Vinnegar: my tribute to a great musician and exemplary friend, my esteemed associate
  2. Doing Jersey with Philly Joe: Philly Joe Jones was royalty, I was very young, very out there, very lucky to wind up in his band
  3. My three nights with Tony Williams: playing with Tony changed my life . . . one of the greatest musicians of all time!
  4. Playing for all the right reasons: some critics still say Dexter played too many clichés and that his time was bad. Well, I was there, critics. Let the clichés fall like a cloak of Divine Love around us. Dexter was beyond such accusatory ruminations
  5. Doing the hang with Dexter Gordon: at 6'5" he was more than a giant in stature. He changed all of us that knew him, all of us that heard him play. He was the Sophisticated Gentleman
  6. The Leroy Vinnegar Room: my words, meticulously painted in florid script, all over the walls in a 4-star hotel room in Oregon. Who knew?
  7. Presenting a wonderful video of Erroll Garner: when I am BLUE, you will find me at this page
  8. Just for fun: photos from fans and friends
  9. Eddie Marshall: such a great drummer . . . I will miss his Love and his smile
  10. My trio at Yoshi's in Oakland, CA. I always love playing with Ray Drummond and Victor Lewis
  11. Long live Elvin Jones: without him, Chasin' the Trane or Vigil or A Love Supreme would not exist. The greatest drummer in the world has left us, but also he left us a legacy. And a movie, a western called Zachariah
  12. Disassembling the piano: I'm full of opinions and other combustibles . . . for example, I believe that pianos have too many strings, or at least I did when I wrote this article . . . they would be quieter, but more sonorous and easier to keep in tune
  13. Choosing to buy a 7'6" Yamaha Conservatory Grand: it is already changing my life. For the better
  14. How I and my piano have bonded: a sort of diary/love story, I guess
  15. Approaching the piano: how to sit, how to breathe, how to eat, how to get free at the keyboard . . . an on-going agony of personal habits. Habits are usually made to be broken
  16. More Glenn Gould: sitting so low and climbing so very high and speaking to me, through technology, across an abyss of time . . . leading me, changing me, teaching me. This man was one of the finest pianists and greatest musicians of this, or any time
  17. Mary Lou Williams: her advice to me is one more good reason I'm still here. As women musicians we never forget her legacy and must always revere her profound impact on our art
  18. Todd Barkan: it only took 30 years to figure out that I was going to Todd Barkan's School for the Infinitely Impractical—and a lot was learned within the walls of that Citadel of wild, explosive creativity
  19. Songs for a New Century: an important, crystal-clear, transparent album for me and for you and for our collective hopes and dreams
  20. The Circle: an advanced crash-course in making music and why I do it still
  21. Songs of Earth: liners for an new CD of mine
  22. Survey finds jazz musicians are male, educated, underpaid... and homophobic: really? Who knew?
  23. Make a thing, take risks: it's not important what others think of it . . . just make it, splat
  24. Touch and where it leads: my next CD and what it means for me and my freedom
  25. Marion Hayden: wow, can she play
  26. Miles: "Teo, play that... once... let me hear that once... Teo... Teo..."
  27. Monk: The Monk runs deep
  28. The Monk Runs Deeper: no one deserves another tribute more than he, and I'm just the one to do it ...liner notes to Deep Monk, a release of mine, out now
  29. Life as Contest: all of us famous (sic) musicians live in castles with moats, get $100,000 per performance. This, and other various hallucinations
  30. I was a Facebook addict: For four months I pretty much ignored my cat, my dog, my business, my music, my poetry, my writings, my web site updates, and too often, my dear husband. For four months I suffered from “Facebook Depression”.
  31. Staying well during the weird times: "Craigslist for the Rich" and a primer on how to maintain mental and physical health during the pretty wild and crazy times up ahead.
  32. A song for those tough times, sung by Jennifer Lawrence of "The Hunger Games" : sometimes a sad song is just what we need to hear. "Stop fighting amongst yourself. Turn your anger to your real enemy. Turn your anger to President Snow."
  33. Giving Birth to Sound: Twenty questions. I received a "call for literary submission" to be part of an anthology of women musicians. Here it is.
  34. My old high school honors me: My words to musicians who are into becoming better musicians, coders who are writing killer code, astronauts who are preparing for long voyages, and all others with the grand passion to create.
  35. My dog and cat just died: Late April, 2016. No words. Just a few pictures.
  36. Another Crucible Already?: What, I ask, are we to do? Watch this. It'll put everything in clear perspective! MEL BROOKS weighs in with one hilarious video that helps to put our present foibles in perspective.
  37. I am an Astronaut: If you're already dead, then it's doubtful that you have the right stuff for this article.
  38. The Mind at its Beginning: things I wrote on the pad by my bed as I pulled myself together after being "re-assembled" by neurosurgeons.
  39. What Happens Next: In our culture, males have been consensually deemed more important than females, logic more important than emotion, and money more important than life itself. Until the balances are correct, we will continue to be cut off from our Source, the Universe, the Earth, and our spiritual centers.
  40. Give me a Mere 200 Years!: We were transported from a hearty Arabian dance with accordions and flutes and guitar, to a funeral dirge played on a dusty, cranky old organ in a church that smells of old men and lost souls.
  41. Thoughts for 2015: We are sacred beings, made of the same stuff the stars are made of. We are all very beautiful. We do not flourish in slavery. We become deadened by the death all around us. We seek a better way.
  42. A Musician for all Seasons: what Dr Billy Taylor means to me: my own musical tribute to him
  43. A Little Dog: There is no value in anything if there is no love. The grieving, the epiphany, and the beginning of inspiration. My friend is dead, and I'm not the same. I'm in pain, but I'm better for knowing him
  44. A NEW Little Dog: meet Ruby. I think that dogs are pretty amazing, and much more advanced than us in some ways. Well, at least more advanced than me
  45. The Boneman: I've met him. Don't invite him in. He'll stay forever.
  46. What Keeps Me Going?: Do I keep playing because I'm driven? Is it popularity? Fame? Money? (Can't be that.) What on God's Green Earth keeps me going? I've been depressed for a month, and that opened me up to the answer. The main answer, anyway. I don't know much, but I know how lucky I am.
  47. An article by Vandana Shiva: about our never-ending war against the Earth.
  48. Gifting the Self, Gifting Others: Money can't buy you love, so why can't we see that love is beyond price? One would think that we would just spread love around everywhere. It doesn't cost us a dime!
  49. A Reminder: The most powerful, life-altering speech of the 20th Century, made by The Reverend Martin Luther King. We still share his Dream. It is OUR Dream now and forever. (I love it so much, I'm leaving it here for a good while)
  50. A thank-you message: I really would not have made it this far without you.
  51. Sara Pritchard: a one-in-a-million (make that billion) author, worth every minute you can spare to read her wonderful books . . . you will be changed by them, and in a good way, too.
  52. I'm a better musician, I think: I admit that I like playing ballads the best. I think that's my new thing at the piano, because I think I was always best at that to begin with.
  53. Leaving one's own Mythology Behind: there's a lot to like about the new Jessica, after all of the experiences and thrashing about and explosive moments of success—and failure—that I've put myself through!
  54. Précis on Life, Death, Love, and Time: No one escapes. Illnesses will happen. Accidents will occur. Love will spring forth. Births will be celebrated, deaths will be mourned. Protesting it is futile.
  55. Love or money?: my hope for the Children of the Future, those yet to be born.
  56. It is not possible to have a rule-governed creativity: I just like saying that, over and over . . . but the more we set rules about art, the less true art seems to spring forth. Art is very like Love. It does not do well when chained to others' often arbitrary regulations.
  57. The Back #1: a very clear and concise report on how I'm doing after the triple fusion with instrumentation (not bass and drums).
  58. Aspiring to Oneness: seeking the source of power to change the world.
  59. Discomfort is under-rated: My Baltimore-based GrandMaster Trumpeter friend told me to get off of my complacency and go to the dentist before my teeth kill me. He's right, and who can argue with right? My prime motivators: the gifts at the end of the tunnel. Food and kissing are two big ones.
  60. Awakening to My True Self: Now is like a small gnat that you'll never be swift enough to swat. It's there and then it's gone like the whirlwind. And then, there is the unknowable future, barely perceptible but highly malleable by our actions and our passions in the now, and wisely remaining always just out of reach. We lack prescience, and that is a mortal protection and a savory gift.
  61. Why is THIS here?: Because I like it a lot . . . Barbra Streisand sings Leonard Bernstein's Somewhere.
  62. Belief: Better believe in yourself. You're cooler than you think.
  63. Peace: About something we so desperately need.
  64. The Disconnect: I do not approve of Empire. The greed, the lack of compassion, the media curtain that obscures the truth, the money! Many seem intent on the destruction of our principles and the end of our ways of life. Rogues and scoundrels, be aware. Sometimes the old ways are still the best ways, and sometimes, your slaves carry sharp sticks meant just for your heads.
  65. From my Out-Box: When it comes to words, I am something of a pack-rat. I save too much! But I say too much also, so a page of my words is refreshing, as the reader may close the book at any time.
  66. How we live longer lives: Negative, rule-based belief systems and religions are not just dangerous. They are most often fatal.
  67. Lunatics on Parade: They say—and I have some idea of who "they" are, they say this: "A normal human uses only ten percent of the brain." Well, if that's true, and I seriously doubt that I could even breathe or brush my teeth if it were true, then we're in some serious trouble.
  68. My brain on words: Please do not read this! "Well then, why the Sam Hill is it here?!"

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2. My Poems

  1. Poetry in 2015: The blazing infinity we call the Universe makes rules to break them. We, as humans, are the inheritors of these galactic codes, for good or ill. This will be the year of the poem for me. It's the style that best suits my place and my pace in this Universe at this time. I am downloading from up there somewhere.
  2. My very newest poems from 2014: I hate bad poetry. That's why I'm happy not to be making it! I think Mary Oliver has finally sunken in. I think the words are finally flowing (what an egoist I was!)
  3. My poems from early 2014: I seem to be starting this new year with a muffled, distant boom rather than a boisterous bang
  4. My poems from 2013: I so hope you enjoy a few of them . . . they're the best so far, I believe. I certainly could be wrong. I read Mary Oliver and humbly seek to learn how
  5. My poems in 2012: and who's Rita Dove?
  6. More poems, 2001-02: more recent poems, including one for Elvin Jones
  7. My early poetry, 1976-77: the creation of a poem can still be an act of defiance, of irreverence, of hope, of love, of protest: it can also be an act of pure incompetence . . . it is a precarious art form

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3. Writings about music, pianos, and little dogs

  1. Coltrane's light: his A Love Supreme still sustains me after all these years. His words light my path, and his playing lifts my spirit and cleanses my soul
  2. Great moments in Pianistic History: well, I thought it was funny
  3. Watson: dog, familiar, ally, survivor, super-hero, teacher, sentient being, courageous spirit. To me he's all that and more
  4. Jessica reviews Jessica: this gives one an opportunity to experience Sartre's nausea without actually reading Sartre. This is probably a good thing. I review three of my own performances and get good grades
  5. The exploding chicken style of jazz music: invented and patented by Berklee™
  6. Senior discounts, Fujitsu 100 Cold, Dead Fingers, more: I am more than a 12-minute experience. It takes me at least 15 minutes to say hello properly and find the soft pedal
  7. A few recent awards from JazzTimes: it's wonderful to read wonderful things about yourself in the 'zines. And CD of the year? Not to mention TWO in one year? But why was I not notified?
  8. Like Minds: saxophonist Sarah Manning and I talked today
  9. My new band: it doesn't get much better...
  10. Time to say "ENOUGH": as our planet and our hopes wither, it's time to balance yin and yang
  11. Hope, a dream, and Aiko: the beginning of a new way towards making crystal-clear art, a way of cleaning bugs off of the windshield of the soul
  12. What life is: and there's actually some mystery to all this?
  13. My view: good music should change your life upon hearing it
  14. Another Lifetime: goodbye, 20th Century, and a poem for Keith Jarrett
  15. People ask me: answers to oft-asked questions. And more about that word gig ... and I use the word word loosely
  16. Jazz: just a word?: it's not about others defining us . . . it's about us defining ourselves
  17. Illness as teacher: Keith Jarrett inspired this article. It's about feeling bad, and playing piano, and not playing, and growing wiser, and healing
  18. Women Musicians: a compilation. There's less and less of us, so we can't quit now. If you're not on this list but should be, let me know
  19. Music for powerful times: for our lives, unto our deaths, this is OUR MUSIC. We give it freely to the world to promote and foster harmony and freedom and peace
  20. Jazz and codes of conduct: we play this Music in the shadow of giants. All ghouls who feed on the souls and the gifts of others, take note
  21. About performing: since grand pianos always open to the right, your right side is the side that audiences will always see. So this is the side of your face that will break out before a concert. This has no bearing on pianos, but seems to be a universal law, like gravity

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4. Writings, mostly about everything else

  1. Mel Brooks has a nice face: British researchers theorize on what Jesus really looked like
  2. The New America: is this for real?
  3. The Eleventh Hour: I need more than two years to live. Give us a break
  4. We're in a post-idea vortex: quick! somebody have an original thought beside "no new taxes" and "cut the budget"
  5. Now's the time: we could conceivably end up like the poor Dodo bird . . . extinct
  6. Beginnings: there can be no happiness without freedom. To some, there is obviously more than one kind of freedom
  7. Intimacy: there's different kinds. Maybe the most salient feature of this age is the lack of it. We are measured not by our capacity to fill the world with love but by our ability to fill the bank with money. One of the more degrading characteristics of Humanity's Rainbow
  8. A poem from Andre: a great honor for me
  9. Orgone, Dr Reich, and the FDA: it is dangerous to be an American and not be a Christian, even if you are NOT running for president
  10. Crossroads: a beginning or an ending
  11. The Grace of my life: why now? Because I'm ready
  12. I'm Thankful: my web site, my friends around the world, my music, and my future
  13. Trying to Help: how does a mere thousandaire help save the planet? And a few years later, here I am a hundred-aire.
  14. A Dream I Had: what can I say? We all have aspirations. I used to want to play at the Village Vanguard
  15. The Next Big Step: big ideas start as nebulous concepts and focus into powerful agents of change. Is your music as relevant as you want to believe it is?
  16. Kurt Vonnegut Jr: I know everyone has to graduate. To die. But why him? Why anybody, as he would say
  17. Puppy Days: the colors are getting vibrant. I'm in a cartoon and I like it
  18. Sparks on the dog: those sparks and blue flames may be the universe trying to tell you something
  19. After the JazzTimes "Before and After Test": why it doesn't matter how you play, only how politically correct you are. No apologies. I'm a Mac Gurl, and I don't do Windows
  20. Doug Ramsey: a fine critic, writer, and good guy. I somehow survive the dreaded JazzTimes "Before and After" test . . .
  21. I'm in a dream: It's my dream and I designed it
  22. Digital Portraits: some Photoshop images that worked out, and a few real keepers
  23. Drawings of mine: rescued by the Wayback Machine, in pen and ink, and not the digital kind, either
  24. Jazz is NOT dead: it's not even sick. It's just growing up. I think I was trying to convince myself of something here
  25. Fantasia: letting my Conservatory training sing through me in a language not jazz, not classical, but mine alone
  26. Ali For President: back when we were in love with Muhammad Ali... ok, I was in love with him
  27. The Jazz Cartels: trouble returns! I sent it away but it returned after a five-year run in cyberspace
  28. Wake Up: there are ways out of the trap
  29. Ayn Rand: an unhappy soul revealed, as her popularity soars
  30. Raw facts, Raw Feelings: women under Islam suffer unimaginable tortures daily, while "feminists" in the West remain largely silent . . . this is the war against women
  31. Jessica, why don't you come here and play?: the music business doesn't quite work that way. I wish I could . . .
  32. Forgiveness and Freedom: once you realize that your life is sacred and blessed and beyond the judgment of other human beings, you've come awake . . .
  33. The Three Rules of Everything: here they are again, for me and for you
  34. Available to the moment: most instrumentalists aren't available to themselves, the moment, or the audience, much less the music
  35. Learning by Doing: not all places are the same, but each can teach you something
  36. The Garden: one day we're in heaven and the next day we're on hold, waiting to talk to tech support in India
  37. Art by Tuv, Nerdrum, Matta: and a few pieces by me
  38. Our attention: we take on the power and the tone of the things that we try desperately to avoid
  39. God is such a big word: in my hands, in the galaxies, like grains of sand
  40. If you want Paradise: never serve false masters
  41. Are you happy in this world?: Does it seem horribly askew, like "backwards world"?
  42. Following the Silence: listening closely to silence, the notes start to form out of nothingness. Another attempt to express the inexpressible, and how we can stop making Music and instead let it make itself
  43. Following the lines: they're there to tell us the truth, which way to go, what to do, and when. Mr Trudell knows it. I know it too
  44. If only: we could accept that we are all one
  45. i me mine: about selfishness, selflessness, and the balance we seek
  46. The End of Money: we're slaves to it. Even the super-rich are enslaved by it. Time to end it. The movement of pieces of paper from this place to that . . . often just the idea of pieces of paper moving that place to this . . . what an insane invention, what a walloping failure of the species to use their intelligence. Perhaps as stupid an idea as the atomic bomb, which is at least real . . . but let's not go therestarred article
  47. Ten Things: Ten of the most valuable things you have
  48. Web Tips: you don't have to be a super-coder to enjoy the web
  49. Resting up: that's what I'm doing
  50. Stream of Consciousness #1: why didn't I think of this sooner, I can write anything I want to . . . anything at all . . . and not worry about being even vaguely coherent
  51. Stream of Consciousness #2: it's obviously a good idea, so I do it again
  52. Where's my sun? Where's my health food? or, how many ways can you prepare dirt and rocks?
  53. Calm Mind: the Dalai Lama is just like you and I. That's what makes his message so important right now
  54. My Work: I know about my Music and my Truth. The things that I don't know (and these things would fill a LaCie 5000 Teraflop super-drive) I'll leave to the know-it-alls who know even less
  55. As close as I get to a "mission statement": it works for me
  56. The light, the dark: some children fear the dark, and obviously most grownups fear the light
  57. Epidemic of Dishonesty: just when you think you've balanced your books: SOP!
  58. What's good, what's not: if we're not entering the dark ages, we've at least entered the dim ones
  59. An import for those of us in the Asylum: and it's all true, Dorothy
  60. Truth and Lies: I had written this piece, and then removed it from this site, only to find it posted on someone else's site. It's the article that won't go away. So I brought it back home
  61. A friend writes a book: contributions to the sacred feminine (so rare in yang, patriarchal culture and philosophy) from authoress Linda Underhill
  62. My favorite things: Saps at Sea by Laurel and Hardy. John Coltrane playing Too Young to go Steady, or Miles Davis playing It Never Entered my Mind . . . and little dogs, lots and lots of little dogs
  63. The emotional plague: WR's theories were so controversial that he has been virtually eradicated from Western culture. He must've been on to something big. He was snuffed for it
  64. Battle of the mini-titans: they might think it's hip to put other people down. It just makes them look little. And if they read this, they'll surely know who they are. I know who they are
  65. About playing, about being: it's pure will and absolute purpose without the arrogance of ego. It's Bruce Lee walking on the ceiling. With ego, you fall on your head
  66. About challenges, gifts: existentialists, take note. When we question ourselves we break the trance of the true reality, the one that goes on when we sleep, when we eat, when we simply do anything at all without trying
  67. Love in the Age of Flu: a short complaint about flu and why it's no fun anymore
  68. We the Living: jazz is not always healthy for me. I know it. I complain too much, so other people know it too. But I won't eat food I dislike and I won't play music that makes me ill. Now I stop complaining and start making the new stuff, the stuff I love. It's all about getting back to the garden
  69. The Rebirth of America: this is the land I love, and how that love affects what I do and how I do it
  70. Links-i-like: building web sites, css mania
  71. Links-i-like reloaded: music sites, record labels (be very afraid), lots of music resources
  72. Things to do, tunes to play: bandstand amnesia no more. A list
  73. Things we would rather forget need to be remembered, for our own sake and for the sake of future generations. The Holocaust through one person's eyes - by Elie Wiesel - don't let anyone tell you it didn't happen, or that it can't happen againstarred article
  74. Taking responsibility for the Music: some MORE things I'm not supposed to say
  75. We've been thinking: how nice it would be to have our country back
  76. Age: how you can stay clean in your dotage
  77. The Dragon Lady is Back!: why working at the most famous jazz club in the world might not be such a good idea
  78. I Have a Dream: the great speech of Rev Martin Luther King, worthy of frequent listenings
  79. Static People: stasis is death. Quite simple. Dynamic life does not brook sameness. You cannot freeze timestarred article

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5. Hypothyroidism, old news, prayers, legal

  1. My research into hypothyroidism treatment: porcine thyroid, and the dreaded filler Avicel
  2. Hypothyroidism, a walk in the dark: feeling dead-tired, old beyond your years? Hair falling out? No appetite but gaining weight? Ears ringing? You may just be playing with a bad drummer, watching too much CNN, or you could have one very serious disease
  3. 60 - The Best Birthday Ever: I've never had a b-day like this! And I have a very special and significant reason to celebrate, and I hope you read this, as it might impact your life too
  4. Old News is better than bad news. Basically, a potpourri of writings that have been de-blogged and are now consigned to the morgue
  5. About dates on web pages
  6. About Currents: my brain on xhtml
  7. Legal, copyright: boring but true
  8. Creative Commons 3



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