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All Alone

I could review Jessica Williams' newest release in a single phrase - one of the finest solo piano albums I've ever heard - but I presume the average reader would appreciate more information than that. I could further cite her impeccable taste, remarkable technique, pristine sound and boundless inspiration, but even those descriptions can't adequately delineate the entire package.


'I'm a musician,' Williams asserts in her brief liner note. 'I'm only as much of a pianist as I need to be to let the music play unimpeded.' And that's about as clear an illustration as one can envision of what Williams achieves on All Alone, a masterful recitation of eight standards and four of her pliant original compositions.

The music flows so effortlessly from fingertips to keyboard to ear that the listener may sometimes fail to appreciate the talent required to shape every note and phrase, but it's there. Williams may only be as much of a pianist as she needs to be, but that's more than enough to place her in the front rank among her contemporaries.

While beholden to no one, Williams does bow on occasion to such giants as Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, Bill Evans and others whose fabric she has used to design her own handsome musical wardrobe. Irving Berlin's poignant 'All Alone' is beautifully intepreted, but no more so than the other well-chosen standards, which include another by Berlin ('They Say It's Wonderful'), two by Ellington ('Warm Valley,' 'In a Sentimental Mood'), the Herman Hupfeld classic 'As Time Goes By' and one of Nat Cole's hits from the late '50s, 'Too Young to Go Steady.' Charles Mingus wrote 'Orange Was the Color of Her Dress Then Blue Silk.' Williams composed the others ('Toshiko,' 'The Sheikh,' 'Bill's Beauty,' 'The Quilt').

All Alone is an endlessly rewarding performance by an exceptionally accomplished artist whom Dave Brubeck once (accurately) described as 'one of the greatest jazz pianists I've ever heard.'

I'll close simply by endorsing his opinion.

Jack Bowers, all about jazz