Jessica Williams, jazz pianist, composer


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The JazzTimes Before and After Test

I was very honored to be asked by noted music critic and author Doug Ramsey to participate in the Before and Afternew window test which appeared in the May 2007 issue of JazzTimes. He documents the affair on his blog Rifftidesnew window and says that I was "forthright, smart and funny." I felt right at home after a few minutes in the hot-seatnew window

So I told my Truth about what he played on the stereo for me. I said some disparaging things about some of the music, and wasn't positive about all ten selections. I DID like at least 4 or 5 cuts, and was crazy about 2... one by Diana Krall, and one by Fats Waller. But my honest answers made some folks very angry, and one person in particular, a big man in the jazz world(!) wrote some pretty nasty things about me in a subsequent issue of JazzTimes. I haven't seen it, nor do I wish to. Here are some letters that I've received so far:

itemDate: Fri, 17 Aug 2007 - Hi Jessica, Yesterday I read the letter to the editor in JazzTimes by W___ J____ blasting you severely for your responses on the Blindfold Test (Before and After). I disagree with him. I liked your blindfold test answers. What was refreshing was that you "said things", rather than sticking to neutral or politically correct mailto:jjw1948@gmail.coms. When something was rubbish, you said so. When something was excellent like Fats Waller, you said so. Maybe you took the emperor's clothing off of one of W___'s favorites? Keep on doing what you're doing! Best Wishes, Bob B __

itemDate: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 Hi Jessica - I see you have received praise and criticism for your outspoken JazzTimes Before & After. Personally, I thought it was great - totally honest responses to the recordings, which I thought was supposed to be the whole idea of the exercise. Happiness, Health, and most of all, Bright Moments, Lenny ___

itemDate: Thurs, 16 Aug 2007 - Hey Jessica! W___ J____ did everything but call you names. He kind of did that too didn't he? What a nasty guy. While he's sitting alone in his office writing mean letters to the editor to trash jazz musicians, you and others are out here in the real world making music and playing your hearts out. May he get his. Hope you never change. You say what you mean like you play what you mean. Right on. Harvey ___

itemDate: Sun, 19 Aug 2007 - Dear Jessica, was that letter written by some bigshot in the music biz? Somebody you know? He went out of bounds by speaking so badly of you. If he knew you he wouldn't so I assume he doesn't. You didn't say one bad thing about anybody, you just criticized the music, something I thought you were allowed to do. It was like reading an old jazz mag, not this new age "elite journalism" they give us where everything is grand. I know you say on your website that it's hard for women in jazz. He should be encouraging you! You don't need him, and don't listen to him or his barbs. We all are listening to you. My wife Sandy sends her love too (and the dog Riley!) - keep the music coming! - Bill C ___


Just the facts . . .

I just answered the questions.

I remember, years ago, a jazz musician listened to me in a blindfold test. He screamed "No, no, no. Wrong!" and that was fine. It was my Music he hated, not me. He didn't know it was me playing, and he didn't know ME. I didn't take it personally. But he was right: it was wrong. That music was not right at all and I knew it. And I learned from that.

Remember what Miles said. "If everybody loves you, you ain't playing s&%#."

I take all this as a compliment. I must be doing something right.

Write ANOTHER article, W ___ J ___!




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