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27.8.11

Jessica Williams Quartet



Jessica Williams Quartet - Jessica's Blues - 1996 - Jazz Focus

"I will say on record that I think she is the finest pianist of our time. And her records are bar none, the most consistently immaculate and for your hard-earned dollars, a Jessica Williams album is a no-brainer" © Fred Jung, All About Jazz

"Jessica Williams ought be routinely mentioned as a living giant of jazz piano." © Bob Powers

"One of the greatest pianists I have ever heard..." © Dave Brubeck

Should Jessica Williams ever give up playing piano (God forbid!), she would certainly have a bright future writing about jazz. I enjoy reading her liner notes almost as much as listening to the subsequent music. Five of these selections are Williams compositions: Smoking Section, Chief Seattle Blues (in honour of the American Indians and Jessica's favourite city), Sneak Preview, Dats For Nat (Adderley) and Blues For Bill (Evans). Well aware of the roots of the blues, Jessica included a few oldies: See See Rider, St Louis Blues and a 1923 Clarence Williams blues song Baby, Won't You Please Come Home. Jeff Johnson, a long serving, formidable bassist makes his recording debut on electric bass on Dat's For Nat. Johnson works particularly well with drummer Mel Brown, swinging, playing great time and following Jessica 'through every contortion'. Jay Thomas, who has also recorded under his own name for Jazz Focus, plays tenor sax and trumpet with equal facility and authority, and on occasion plays them 'simultaneously', through double tracking. To my ears these performances demonstrate perfectly the infinite variety of the blues, sometimes in the minor tonality; everyone sounds at ease and convincing in the idiom. Smoking Section certainly comes in smoking, with whistle blasts from the piano player. Jessica, a long time Roland Kirk admirer, points out that Kirk had a whistle for every occasion, a facility which she hopes to emulate. She also explains that Kirk always disliked the expression 'get down with the blues', saying 'you get up with the blues--get up!' Well, everybody is up with the blues throughout this album. As with every Jazz Focus album, audio quality is outstanding, playing time commendable. - Pat Hawes, JAZZ JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL, MAY 1999

Virtuosic pianist Jessica Williams is best heard as an unaccompanied soloist, where her imagination and wit can run wild, but she also fares quite well when playing with sympathetic musicians. This outing matches her with bassist Jeff Johnson, drummer Mel Brown and (on seven of the 11 numbers) Jay Thomas, who shows that he is equally skilled on tenor and trumpet. The emphasis is on the blues (other than "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home"), but by using different tempos, moods, and to a small extent styles, the musicians perform a surprisingly varied program. Thomas' swinging tenor solos (in the tradition of Gene Ammons) and fluent trumpet (check out the ancient sound he gets while muted on "St. Louis Blues") are major assets; he sometimes overdubbed a second horn for the ensembles. However, Jessica Williams easily emerges as the main star, whether ripping into the cooking "Raised Fourth" (a Thelonious Monk line), playing a boogaloo-ish "Sneak Preview," hinting at Red Garland and Bill Evans, or contributing a whistle to "Smoking Section" (which is dedicated to Rahsaan Roland Kirk). This date is highly recommended to straight-ahead jazz fans and is yet another strong addition to Jessica Williams' rapidly growing discography. © Scott Yanow © 2011 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/jessicas-blues-r314663/review

Listen to Jessica's "And Then, There's This" and "All Alone" albums. Listen, sometime to Horace Silver's magnificent "Song for My Father" album, and Dave Brubeck's "Time Out" album. These albums demonstrate that Jazz is not an elitist or inaccessible music genre. Read Loren Schoenberg's brilliant article about jazz and jazz improvisation @ http://www.pbs.org/jazz/lounge/101_improvisation.htm

TRACKS / COMPOSERS

1.Smoking Section - Jessica Williams
2.Chief Seattle Blues - Jessica Williams
3.Sneak Preview - Jessica Williams
4.See See Rider - Trad.
5.Dat's For Nat - Jessica Williams
6.Blues For Bill - Jessica Williams
7.Baby,Won't You Please Come Home - Charles Warfield, Clarence Williams
8.Temporary Sanity - Jessica Williams, Charles Williams
9.St.Louis Blues - W.C. Handy
10.Raise Four - Thelonious Monk
11.Blue Jay - Jay Thomas

MUSICIANS

Jessica Williams - Piano
Jeff Johnson - Bass
Mel Brown - Drums
Jay Thomas - Tenor Sax, Trumpet

SHORT BIO

Due to her being based in northern California, Jessica Williams is a bit underrated, but (on evidence of her sets for Jazz Focus and Hep) she is one of the top jazz pianists of today. Williams is a powerful virtuoso whose complete control of the keyboard, wit, solid sense of swing, and the influence of Thelonious Monk have combined to make her a particularly notable player. She started taking piano lessons when she was four and was gigging as a teenager. Williams took extensive classical lessons but also gigged with Philly Joe Jones in Philadelphia before moving to San Francisco in 1977. She was the house pianist at Keystone Korner for a time and made a few interesting recordings (some as Jessica Jennifer Williams) during the period, sometimes utilizing electronics. Although she appeared on Charlie Rouse's final record and gigged steadily, Williams was largely off record (outside of her own private Quanta label) until re-emerging in the late '80s as a brilliant solo acoustic player. She is a giant whose many dates for Jazz Focus (five of its first ten releases feature Williams) and Hep are consistently brilliant. © Scott Yanow © 2011 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/artist/jessica-williams-p7827/biography

12 comments:

A.O.O.F.C said...

LINK

p/w aoofc

Eric said...

I see you've been a busy beaver.
Very cool seeing Jessica Williams here, a friend turned me onto her many yrs. ago.
Really deserving of more attention then much of the so called watered down jazz that's out these days.

Eric said...

Nice seeing Jessica Williams up.
A friend turned me onto her many yrs. ago.
I think the album had Eddie Gomez on it (not certain).
I am certain it was really good though.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Eric. She's an amazing pianist. I don't know the album with Eddie Gomez. Could have been a Thelonius Monk tribute. If Jessica is good enough for Dave Brubeck, she's fine by me!...Thanks, Eric...TTU soon...P

Eric said...

I'll ask my friend what album it was.
I see him all the time.

Sorry for the previous duplicate post,it didn't seem to post 1st time.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks, Eric. I would be interested. Don't worry about dup. posts...probably my blog settings. No big deal. TTU soon...P

Eric said...

@ Paul, K, My mistake it was Joanne Brackeen I was thinking of with Eddie Gomez on bass.
Saw her live with him and Ravi Coltrane in NYC some yrs. ago.

I always get her and Jessica mixed up because my buddy turned me onto both of them around the same time and of course they play the same instrument and are also @ times stylistically similar.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, Eric. Very similar techniques. Have you heard Joanne's "Pink Elephant Magic" CD? Great version of Brubeck's "Strange Meadowlark". Hey, we're getting very classy with these artists, Eric! No rubbish on this (or your) blog! lol TTU soon...P

drfeelgoed said...

Nice one, listening to it now, many thanks again.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,drfeelgoed.She's an amazing pianist.Thanks...P

Jessica Williams said...

And when her and I played together (a week's duo gig at Jazz Alley), she blew me away with Giant Steps. In 5/4 time. I din't play a note. Just applauded a lot.
I really appreciate the nice comments. I'm going through a stretch of health problems, the biggest being my back (a laminectomy at L5S1 around 1984 left me functional but now it's scoliosis and L4 giving way. I have a good doctor. We hope!)
Advice, pianists. Listen to teachers and sit up straight. It may not look hip but neither does being bent like a pretzel and in level 8-9 pain.
So reading nice things like this lift my spirits.
And I'll be back, maybe not with anything that would scare some of these new players, but hey. I can still play the blues. Better now, I think.
And I sure love people (most of them.)
Yhank you for the thoughts, all.
-Jessica Williams

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Jessica. Thanks for comment. I hope your health problems improve. I look forward to your next release. We gotta promote the blues and all good music. Many thanks, & please keep in touch...P