The May issue of Jazz Times has a Before & After listening test to which the pianist Jessica Williams subjected herself at my request. She was forthright, smart and funny in her comments on ten recordings. This is some of what she said about Fats Waller’s “Smashing Thirds,” recorded in 1929.
It’s together; it swings. It reached a crescendo, a pinnacle. Then it switched gears unexpectedly and came home and resolved itself. It had humor, drama, amazing technique. It’s a great piece of art.
This is a little of her reaction to a track from a Myra Melford album.
Maybe 40 years ago, I might have tried that on one tune, to express a lot of pent-up rage. I’d never consider doing it again. You can hurt yourself doing that. You can leave blood on the keys.
The Before & After feature is on line at the Jazz Times web site. It is interactive, with samples of the tracks Williams heard.