Jazz CD Reviews

Jessica Williams, solo piano – Songs for a New Century – Origin

All nine tracks are original by Williams, and they cover a wide range of emotions and styles.

Published on April 10, 2008

Jessica Williams, solo piano – Songs for a New Century – Origin
Jessica Williams, solo piano – Songs for a New Century – Origin Records 82507, 1 hour ****:

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 today has released.

All nine tracks are original by Williams, and they cover a wide range of emotions and styles. Her conservatory training is in evidence on Fantasia (she has been compared to Bill Evans and even Glenn Gould). On Toshiko – dedicated to bandleader-composer Toshiko Akiyoshi – she uses some prepared-piano tricks to get the sounds of Japanese folk instruments such as the koto and shamisen. Other tunes are tributes to the memory of Oscar Peterson and John Coltrane.

The piano sound is very close up, very clean and precise, yet richly colored.  Working without the usual rhythm section is not easy for any pianist, but Williams appears to sail thru the challenges with flying colors.

TrackList: Empathy, Toshiko, Fantasia, Song for a Baby, Blessing in Disguise, Lament, Dear Oscar, Spoken Softly, If Only.

 - John Henry




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