Jessica Williams, jazz pianist, composer


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From my "out" box

These entries are culled from things that I wrote to others in answer to their eails. I have violated no one's privacy. I believe that each chosen section has some sort of validity, even if it is of minor consequence. 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.

I don’t think it matters how accomplished one is. It only matters that we enjoy our lives, and our music is OUR language of Love. I listen to any “talk program” on the radio and pay close attention to my body and where my mind goes, leaving my tracks in the sands of my self. All of their talk is usually not at all pretty. Then I switch over to any classical station. My mind eases, it soothes my body, I feel Love again, particularly if it’s Debussy or Beethoven or John Adams. Or Mozart. And surely Bach. Gould playing Bach. Zimerman playing Chopin. Here lies our most precious gems, in the worlds we build with our passionate creativity.


Music . . . a fool’s errand? I don’t think so. It is so lovely that men and women are willing, absolutely driven to make art and music and literature and poetry. I am so happy to have my gift, which now is so much more broad in scope—I am returning to my classical roots, my Peabody Conservatory days as a young girl. My mind was not beset by ‘jazz’ then, I was free, and my music was an expression of pure streaming life in my body.


I have changed so drastically since my rather difficult back surgery. I am grateful for this change. I feel I am in my body again. I have no idea where the heck I was before! But I am now once again the young girl with a great passion for the piano and for all things musical. I will never play like Andreas Schiff or Krystian Zimmerman or Valentina Lisitska. But nor will they ever play as I do. And as my playing changes, so does my perception of reality—decidedly for the better. It is a wonderful talent to have, especially during turbulent times such as these.


Much of what we see around us is a shame. I call this “Backwards World”. If it is good they will kill it, if it works they will break it, if it feels good they will criminalize it. It is the “Aristocrat’s Game”. We get Caligula’s ‘Bread and Circuses’, but none of the Bread. We are the only hope for change, along with the children. The elders are not budging as too many of them are frightened of and afraid of change. The kids are not. It intoxicates and inspires them. I have high hopes for them.


I am so happy to see certain parts of the “great experiment of freedom” working in ways that the Social Darwinists and moral (sic) leaders—those same ones who say “The strong will eat, and the meek are meat”—did not foresee: the breakdown of prejudice and division between different types and colors of people, the realization that we are being used and even enslaved by ideas and dogma not our own . . . the gradual erosion of all stereotypes . . . the opening of minds onto levels of awareness hitherto unfathomable to most of us. I hope that the wall is cracking. I think it will fall, for if it does not, then we will fall. Prayers and hopes are our companions in this time of upheaval. And so are art, music, poetry, and creativity of any sort. I have hopes. I can never give up hoping for better days for us all.


And in the end, if it is not built with a certitude of passion then it is not built to last. What could be more lasting and inviolate than anything penned by Tchaikovsky, especially his 4th Symphony . . . and then there is Rimski-Korsakoff and Mussorgsky. And let me not neglect mention of Mozart’s 41st Symphony! Yet, patriarchy and oligarchy have eaten music like this. They forbid or discourage it for our use because it speaks a truth: that we are all one, that we are not separate from others who may look different us. This is the deepest and most dangerous truth of all because it destroys division and thus destroys power over others. It leaves us with the power of Love, and that is the way towards the stars.


We choose a Path and follow it. As far back as I can remember, my path was Music and Truth, and I refer to it as The Golden Path. Next time around perhaps I’ll be a farmer's wife. Me and my dear, darling husband as farmers. Odd—in the first grade the teachers gave me a test and told me it indicated to them that I would excel at Agriculture. They seemed quite certain of their assessment.

So maybe we’ll grow squash and melons and potatoes and corn and really good marijuana!

And I will have many children, and they will like my music: they will change and cause trouble and grow up to be various versions of my husband and I, but I am certain that they will be whip-smart, mindful, strong, blessed with the love for the arts, and all-in-all as fine a bunch of continuous surprises any woman could ask for.

Yet I have a curious feeling that music will forever be my one, true language.

It bears no grudges, holds no ill-will, and fills the air with passions that linger long after the last note had faded away. It is powerful magic, this music of mine, and I carry it. Not always gracefully, and often not as easily as some, but I carry it as best I can.

And I rejoice daily that it is within me.

Jessica Williams, August 27, 2015


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