This Week’s Pick: Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams, With Love (Origin)

Jessica W With LoveThis masterpiece of quiet reflection is the pianist’s first recording since surgery repaired spinal deterioration that kept her out of action for more than two years. With exquisite slowness, she explores eight standard ballads and her composition “Paradise of Love.” In her notes, Williams writes, “I wanted to make an album that while still rooted in jazz, relied less on technique and improvisation and more onJessica Williams Smiling 3 emotive depth, melodic purity and space.” Her approach to “My Foolish Heart,” “Summertime,” “But Beautiful,” “When I Fall in Love” and “I Fall in Love Too Easily” and the others accomplishes that goal. Largely rubato, she lingers over phrases, nowhere more movingly than in “It Might As Well Be Spring.” For all the melodic purity, Williams’s harmonic originality is on full display.

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  1. Donna Shore says

    I agree completely with Alan Schultz. I love the recording of “Without A Song” that Jessica recorded in 1995 on the album “Intuition”. I play it whenever I feel melancholy.

  2. Wayne Tucker says

    I have a couple of her albums and like them a lot. My favorite is a Monk tribute. I’m going to pick up this new one. The song selection looks solid.

  3. mel says

    Thank you, Doug for letting us know about Jessica Williams With Love. I have just come back from visiting her website and listening to the clips of five of the tracks that she provided.
    After her unfortunate illness it is apparent that she no longer plays as forcibly and fast as she used to. That doesn’t matter. Thankfully she has lost none of her exquisite harmonic sense. Her playing on this CD is utterly beautiful. I could listen to wonderful music like this all day.
    If you see this, thank you, Jessica, for coming back into our lives with your gorgeous playing.
    By the way, the Sinatra movie you were thinking of in which he sang I Fall In Love Too Easily was Anchors Aweigh (1945).

  4. says

    The other day, apropos of nothing, I pulled out several Jessica Williams CDs and listened to her work for the first time in quite awhile. I especially enjoyed the two albums she recorded at Yoshi’s in Oakland for MaxJazz. She lovingly recalls Erroll Garner on “I’m Confessin” That I love You” and does several original tunes that use the blues to fine advantage. “Soldaji””, “Tutu’s Promise” and “Blue Tuesday” come to mind. She plays with taste, power and finesse, all the while maintaining a strong blues vein in her improvisations.

    We exchanged emails during her recovery from back surgery and it’s great that she’s back playing again.