Williams is arguably one of the greatest pianists around today, with outstanding versatility and breadth of compositional skill on top.
Jessica Williams' newest album more than lives up to its proud title with 8 originals by Jessica Williams and one seldom-heard chestnut by Sonny Rollins. The music is as new as the 21st Century and quite unlike ANYTHING Ms Williams has committed to CD before: in a program that spans all of the emotions, from longing, sadness, wonder, and optimism, to melting love, there are times when one may wonder if it's "just a piano" they're hearing. On "Toshiko", she manages to coax the sounds of a Koto or a Shamisen out of the instrument, all without any overdubs. The title tune, "First Wish", immediately fills you with the spirit of promise and positive change. Her heart-breaking "Fantasia" is a strong reminder of her extensive conservatory training and extraordinary touch, often compared to Bill Evans (and, more recently, to Glenn Gould) by JazzTimes critic Doug Ramsey. Still firmly rooted in her nearly 50 year love-affair with jazz, she offers her deeply-felt tribute to the memory of the great pianist Oscar Peterson, and rounds out the mesmerizing program with her original compositions containing soaring lines and rapid-fire sheets-of-sound that were inspired by the ground-breaking work of one of her strongest and earliest influences, saxophone giant John Coltrane.
1 Empathy 7:20
2 Toshiko 5:43
3 Fantasia 7:04
4 Song for a Baby 4:15
5 Blessing in Disguise 7:03
6 Lament 6:33
7 Dear Oscar 6:10
8 Spoken Softly 9:06
9 If Only 7:47
JESSICA WILLIAMS - solo piano
Produced by Jessica Williams
Recorded in late January 2008, direct to disc
by Jessica Williams
Mastered by Mark Guenther
Photography by Chad McCullough
Cover design by John Bishop
All About Jazz (Dan McClenaghan)
If you slip into Jessica Williams' web site and ride the currents of her blog, you could get the feeling that the (proudly) sixty year-old jazz pianist is something of an eccentric. Which is a good thing?in this case, an eccentric being one who has walked away from the hype, b.s. and group think with her head held high, coming up with her own take ...
Audiophile Audition (John Henry)
This latest Jessica Williams CD is described as being recorded "direct to disc" which seems to be a similar technique to that employed on some Reference Records piano CDs - eliminating either the analog or digital tape step in the process. This is a quite different album from any of the many which one of the leading female keyboard jazz performs of ...
All Music Guide (Adam Greenberg)
She's a little bit late to release songs intended to kick off a new century, but Jessica Williams can be forgiven that as her music more than makes up for it. The album is actually titled as it is in celebration of Williams' emergence from a low time following the 9/11 attacks, and as such has a fairly upbeat tone throughout the proceedings. Aside ...
JazzTimes, July/August 2008 (Thomas Conrad)
Songs For A New Century is an intensely personal real-time document. Jessica Williams composed all but one of the nine pieces, and recorded the album herself. She says in the liner notes that this solo album "is what I'm hearing and seeing now. ... This has been my life of late." It is about emerging from the grieving of the post-9/11 years and giv ...
The Davis Enterprise (Ric Bang)
Pianist Jessica Williams' newest album is, as fans have come to expect, another winner. This prolific artist - more than 40 releases, and still counting - has been at the top of the talent pool for nearly 50 years. Only a few musicians have achieved such longevity, and the amazing aspect is that she's better now than ever before. In addition, ...
All About Jazz (Thomas Conrad)
It is hard to think of a jazz musician who has gone her own way more resolutely than pianist Jessica Williams. She works only on her own solo and trio projects, never as a sideperson. She engineers her own albums for her own label, Red and Blue, and sells them on her own website, which she designs and maintains herself. She plays only in the venues ...
The Times Colonist (Joseph Blake)
Like Oliver Jones, pianist Jessica Williams owes a large debt to Oscar Peterson. She acknowledges it with the gorgeous original, Dear Oscar, just one of the beautiful solo works on this collection. Williams unleashes all of her playful, adventurous power on a wide-ranging repertoire of originals and Sonny Rollins' seldom-played gem, Blessing In ...
Downbeat, December 2008 (Robert Doerschuk)
On Songs For A New Century (****) Jessica Williams proves that she excels in the solo format. These pieces may owe something to her decision to remove the music stand and fall-board, unfold the front part of the lid and lower the level of her seat. What matters more is the results of this tinkering, and while outside effects do crop up, such as the ...
JAZZIZ (Scott Yanow)
One of the giants of the jazz piano since her solo breakthrough in the late 1980s, Jessica Williams has technique on the level of Oscar Peterson, a wit inspired by Thelonious Monk, a solid sense of swing and a very fertile imagination. She gives the impression she can play anything that occurs to her ? depending on the setting, the way she feels at ...