ARRIVAL - Jessica Williams, solo piano, on Jazz Focus - ****1/2 stars in Downbeat Magazine, Best new jazz release of 1994 by Jazz Journal International
1 Birk's Works
2 I've Never Been in Love Before
3 Japanese Folk Song
5 Lulu's Back in Town
6 Ruby, my Dear
7 Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams
8 Blues for Strayhorn
9 The Creator has a Master Plan
10 The Child Within
11 Mood Indigo
total time- 68:05 | photos by Elaine Arc
****1/2 stars in Downbeat Magazine
Best new releases of 1994 by Jazz Journal International
'No one is currently playing better improvised jazz or conjuring up from the piano such beautiful sounds...Recommended without reservation, especially as the playing time is excellent and the audio quality outstanding.' -Pat Hawes, Jazz Journal International
'It's rare to hear a pianist who puts the instrument to work with the freshness and finesse that Jessica Williams does.' -Elaine Gurregian, DownBeat
'After drinking in this entire session, it should become abundantly clear that this album's one word title just about says it all.' -Gerard Futrick, Coda Magazine
DOWNBEAT Magazine review, 4 and 1/2 stars:
It's rare to hear a pianist who puts the instrument to work with the freshness and finesse that Jessica Williams does. Classically trained at the Peabody Conservatory, Williams really knows her way around the keyboard. Wait, there she goes under the lid, tugging at the strings as if playing a giant bass harp. And there she is again, rippling high notes on the keyboard like windchimes as an accompaniment to a Japanese folk song Williams explores the entire instrument, inside and out, top to bottom for maximum expression.
With the sensitive collaboration of Jeff Johnson on bass and Dick Berk on drums. Momentum offers both standards and originals that keep getting better with repeated hearings. It's strange, but ultimately successful, the way Williams takes apart the melody of Cole Porter's "You Do Something To Me" and displaces it, note by note, into different registers so that at first you think some crazy Viennese composer from the 12-tone school has gotten hold of it. When the melody finally blurts out in the bass, its equally shocking. Williams is a musician with some wit (check out those boof. boof attacks on "Little Dog Blues" and a quote from the Rocky And Bullwinkle theme elsewhere).
Her biggest influence is pianist|composer Thelonious Monk, whose music she plays on both of these discs. Williams has Monk's thudding attacks and deadpan, stuttering rhythms down cold. To them, she adds a more refined technique that makes it possible to create a continuous dialogue with herself. On Arrival, listen to the intricate counterpoint on "I've Never Been In Love Before"
Williams has a fabulous independence of hands to match her imagination. - by Ellen Gurregian, DOWNBEAT, 4 and 1/2 stars
"She is now established as one of the foremost contemporary jazz pianists, acclaimed both by musicians and by critics. ARRIVAL is a solo piano tour de force. Recorded in a Calgary studio during a two-day engagement in that Canadian city in October, 1993, it is a wonderful showcase for the talents of this remarkable musician.
"Though it contains echoes of the work of many of the great jazz pianists, Jessica's style is quite distinctive and her technique breathtaking. Included in the program are two Williams originals, For You Again and The Child Within, fresh versions of two of Thelonious Monks tunes, Misterioso and Ruby My Dear, some superb ballad playing, a gorgeous Japanese Folk Song, and a breathtaking version of Lulu's Back in Town.
"The CD opens dramatically with Jessica plucking the strings of the Grand piano in the opening moments of Birks Works, and closes with a strikingly original reading of Ellington's Mood Indigo.
Jazz piano doesn't come much better than this!" - JazzNow
A pianist friend just layed your CD Arrival on me. As a trumpet player, I typically listen to brass players, but I REALLY enjoy listening to you! What a BEAUTIFUL player you are! I especially enjoyed The Creator Has A Master Plan. Your playing really moves me! If ever you book Chicago, I'll be there to listen. Thank you for your creativity and beautiful sounds. - Jerry Zabin