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Songs of Earth
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newSongs of Earth - Jessica Williams, solo piano - International Release Date JULY 17, 2012

1 Deayrhu (Jessica WIlliams)

2 Poem (Jessica WIlliams)

3 Montoyamp3 (Jessica WIlliams) Entire track

4 Joe and Jane (Jessica WIlliams)

5 Little Angelmp3 (Jessica Williams)

6 The Enchanted Loommp3 (Jessica WIlliams)

7 To Be (John Coltrane)

Total time: 55:30, all tracks recorded during live at the Triple Door in Seattle, WA, direct to disc, 2-track stereo

All compositions by Jessica WIlliams published by JJW MUSIC ASCAP except for To Be by John Coltrane (JowCol Music, BMI) | Photos of Ms Williams by Jimmy Katz, for Origin Arts | Jessica Williams, solo piano, recorded between 2009 and 2011 live, by Craig Montgomery

my review - starstarstarstarstar- just my opinion - JW

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itemJessica Williams, solo piano – Songs of Earth – Origin - by John Henry, AUDIOPHILE AUDITION - starstarstarstarstar five stars - View a printer-friendly version of the article. Published on July 13, 2012 - Jessica Williams, solo piano – Songs of Earth [TrackList follows] – Origin Records 82619, 55.2 min. *****:

I think this is the finest solo piano CD I’ve enjoyed in years!

Jessica Williams is one of the top jazz pianists playing today, and if you’re a jazz piano fan and not familiar with her work, remedy that right away. She had classical training and was the house pianist at San Francisco’s Keystone Korner for many years. Jessica has been a three-time Grammy nominee. She is currently based in Seattle, and this new CD for the top Seattle jazz label Origin consists of seven selections she chose from live solo performances she gave the last few years at Seattle’s Triple Door.

Jessica’s liner notes are not what one might expect. She explains that this music was inspired by “our Mother, the Earth, and by ourselves, her Children.” Only the final selection, John Coltrane’s “To Be” is not an original by Jessica. The tracks range from five to ten minutes length and are all rather quiet, thoughtful, and often with a rather elegiac mood about them. All tonally diatonic, they generally don’t really swing with a typical jazz beat, but sound thoughtfully improvised and open to possibilities, unlike the stiffness of many classical piano pieces. I would put this album in the growing category of unique crossover material that neatly avoids the usual attributes of jazz, classical or New Age.

The opening track has a middle section that speeds up the tempo somewhat, but most are rather slow. The use of ostinatos a la Keith Jarrett is heard in a couple of the selections. The piece ”Montoya”—inspired by Spanish guitarist Carlos Montoya—would seem to suggest some rather wild Spanish idioms, but actually they are the most subtle melodic voice leadings without strong Spanish rhythms. “The Enchanted Loom” is not about weaving, but a metaphor by neuroscientist Charles Sherrington describing what happens in the cerebral cortex during arousal from sleep. Most of the pieces use the entire keyboard including the extremities, but the note complexity is lean. Jessica has strong opinions about the proper tuning of Steinways and has her own expert handle hers. The result is a more pleasing tone than I hear on many Steinway recordings, which is very well captured on this CD. I also appreciate the pause the audience observes before applauding and the clapping being kept to a reasonable level and length.

TrackList: Deayrhu, Poem, Montoya, Joe and Jane, Little Angel, The Enchanted Loom, To Be - John Henry, on this article to AUDIOPHILE AUDITION

 

itemJazz Scan Review By Ric Bang, Thursday, February 28, 2013 starstarstarstarstar

http://www.jazzscan.com/

Jessica Williams: Songs of Earth Origin Arts

Pianist/composer Jessica Williams is an elite musician who is so well known that she needs little introductory or background verbiage to inflate reviews of her albums. Like many pianists, she began her studies with the classics and switched to jazz during her teens. Unlike most beginners, however — who start out playing with unknowns — Williams was associated with icons from the get-go; her first group was headed by Miles Davis drummer Philly Joe Jones. Further jobs were with Eddie Harris, Dexter Gordon and Stan Getz.

Williams is prolific; during a career of more than four decades, she has been featured on at least one album per year.

Her style has matured during this period; she has moved from bop-oriented traditional jazz to a more serious, concert hall genre. Most of what she plays today is in a solo setting, rather than with combos. She also composes extensively, and she now concentrates on her own work rather than that of other composers. Six of this album's seven tracks are her originals; the sole exception is John Coltrane's "To Be."

These compositions aren't scripted on a note-by-note basis, nor are they played as pre-rehearsed melodic lines; they're improvisations of melodies or themes that have "come to her." They're based on events or individuals — not always human; one is inspired by her Boston Terrier — that are, or have been, important in her life.

Whatever the catalyst, this is music to sit back and enjoy: whether at a concert or, in this case, in your own music room. This album is gorgeous and, as Williams hopes, it will bring you joy.

 

itemJazzTimes Review, Nov 15, 2012

by Britt Robson, JazzTimes starstarstarstarstar

If there were a lifetime achievement award for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition, this veteran West Coast pianist would have it in her criminally modest trophy case. Her sixth disc for the Origin label supposedly differs from the others for its heavy emphasis on spontaneous composition, with the material culled from live solo performances over the past few years at the Triple Door in Seattle, near her home. But just as Williams has previously demonstrated an ability to unearth unpredictable elements in even the hoariest standards, her vivid, theoretically unfettered imagination is naturally abetted by her conceptual command and technical brilliance here, mooting most of the distinctions between covers, originals and improvisation in her work.

Thus, the lone cover among the seven tunes on Songs of Earth, John Coltrane’s relatively obscure "To Be," roams as fearlessly as the multifaceted classical-flamenco-jazz meld she whips up on the spontaneous tribute "Montoya." And the likes of "Deayrhu" and "The Enchanted Loom" couldn’t be better shaped if Williams had notated every bit of them.

The former builds off a five-note refrain into a gradual rustling of symphonic grandeur, coasting down with a call-and-response that is more like birds signaling each other across the pond than any pulpit-and-pew dialogue. The latter opens with a catchy rhythm and mushrooms into a resplendent 5/4 raga.

Williams has now released some 70 albums over the course of her career.

It’s amusing how frequently critics conclude a rave review by claiming this or that record to be "one of her best yet." So I’ll just note that Songs of Earth is typical, immediately recognizable to longtime fans not only for the virtues mentioned earlier, but for its soulful yet unsentimental caress of the ivories and the prominent integration of both hands in the sonic ply of her weave. - Britt Robson, JazzTimes

...He assumes I have a “trophy case”! - JW

itemJessica Williams: Songs of Earth starstarstarstarstar

By DAN MCCLENAGHAN, Published: August 9, 2012, AllAboutJazz starstarstarstarstar

Jessica Williams, with her last four CDs on Origin Records, is like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. Earlier in her career, Williams—who once held the piano chair in drummer Philly Joe Jones band—wrapped her artistry in the Great American Song on Some Ballads Some Blues (Red and Blue, 1999), along with stellar tributes to departed star pianists Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk.

Around the beginning of her teaming with Origin Records—in conjunction with the creation of her own Red and Blue Records label—Williams, always a top level musician with huge technique, began to blossom. With her Origin Records discs—Song for a New Century (2008), The Art of the Piano (2009), and, especially, Touch (2010)—Williams veered in a new and very personal direction, feeling her way through the music and finding a new voice of freedom and stunning beauty.

Now there is Songs of Earth, another push forward.

The music here is mostly spontaneously composed by Williams alone at the piano, recorded live during several sessions at Seattle, Washington's Triple Door and put together by Williams to create an expansive aural novel full of majesty and mystery, tenderness and awe. Williams is nearly unrivaled in her ability to marry a classical level of technical proficiency to her joyous sense spontaneity and endless sense of wonder.

"Deayru" opens the book, a lush solo piano symphony shifting from a strong percussive depth to an ephemeral fragility, setting the stage for all that follows. "Poem" is one of three tunes here not composed in complete spontaneity, along with "Little Angel" and saxophonist John Coltrane's "To Be." But, as Williams explains in the disc's liner notes: ..."the amount of notes actually written is far outnumbered by the amount improvised spontaneously," which sounds like it could serve for a partial definition of jazz in general.

Williams' influences are many. Her latest is the late Spanish guitarist Carlos Montoya. In her 2009 interview with All About Jazz, Williams said of Montoya's playing of traditional Spanish tunes: "He improvised like crazy...with an abandon in his playing. He did anything he wanted to." That abandon—under the influence of enormous skill and audacity—is what Williams' music is now all about. On "Montoya," she extracts almost guitar-like sounds from the piano and glides into a gorgeous and poetic Spanish-hued prayer.

Coltrane was also an author of musical prayers. Williams closes with "Trane's" "To Be." Proving herself one of the saxophone legend's finest interpreters with Freedom Trane (Origin Records, 2011), this searching, ten minute-plus ode to existence mirrors Coltrane's approach, with Williams taking her search for truth and beauty—here and on the entire set—up above the earthbound steeple tops.

Track Listing: Deayru; Poem; Montoya; Joe and Jane; Little Angel; The Enchanted Loom; To Be.

Personnel: Jessica Williams: piano. Record Label: Origin Records

 

itemThe Jazz Police - Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor starstarstarstarstar

http://www.jazzpolice.com/content/view/10409/79/

Thursday, 25 October 2012, Jessica Williams, “Songs of Earth” (2012, Origin Records)

One of the most unheralded poet laureates of jazz piano, Jessica Williams has quietly forged a career on the West Coast, yielding an impressive body of solo and trio work with limited touring and headlines. Her latest project for Origin is drawn from solo performances in 2009-2011 at Seattle’s Triple Door. Songs of Earth includes six original compositions and Williams’ interpretation of John Coltrane’s “To Be.” In addition to composing and performing, Williams served as the mixing and edition engineer and co-producer.

Notes Williams, “Songs of Earth is very different than other albums I have ever made. It contains much more pure improvisation… It contains all of the forms that I heard at the moment I played them. It contains very few (if any) pre-rehearsed lines…it is symphonic in nature and it adheres only marginally to any of my previous works in its forms and structures…I see colors in it and shapes within shapes, archetypal designs and natural patterns within a lacework of fragile simplicity… [and] a mysterious quality that I am personally at a loss to explain.”

The opening “Deayrhu,” notes Williams, “defined all of the pieces to follow when I began compiling this album,” and as such defies simple classification as a jazz, experimental or classical composition, suggesting Ravel, Ligeti, Satie, Mehldau, Cecil Taylor, and Marilyn Crispell—simultaneously, with dark rolling bass chords below crystalline figures (that “lacework of fragile simplicity”), evolving into an elegant epic. The haunting, vamp-driven “Poem” is “the one piece I actually notated,” says Jessica, but primarily for the purpose of recall as the bulk of the piece was spontaneously improvised. The elegant, flamenco-inspired “Montoya” is Williams’ tribute to the great Spanish guitarist, revealing layers of exquisite decorations.

“Joe and Jane” is a memorial tribute to those who have lost their lives in military service, who “are worthy of our appreciation and our dedication to a more peaceful and loving future on this Earth.” Here Williams creates a quirky hymn, somewhat reminiscent of Keith Jarrett with its bluesy harmonies and forward movement. Inspired by her Boston Terrier, “Little Angel” suggests a pup light on his feet, delicate in movements yet curious and playful. “The Enchanted Loom” references a metaphor for the human brain and particularly arousal from sleep (“a dissolving pattern… a shifting harmony of sub-patterns); the music prances, “a sort of raga in 5/4 time,” says Williams as the left hand drones in support of the brightly colored dance above.

Coltrane’s “To Be” provides the dramatic finale, Jessica noting the convergence of influences from Debussy and Satie to Montoya. If “Deayrhu” provided the album’s definition, “To Be” provides its summation, as if an exquisite elaboration of the preceding works – a droning figure in the left hand, hymnal reverence, filigree ornementations, and at times,  as Jessica notes, “the roar of the sea” and Mother Earth. The piece fits the set so well that it is easy to forget that Williams is not its composer. Yet, it is her voice that shines as clearly at the end as in the beginning, as if these seven independent stories were always intended to reveal one Song.

 

itemThe New York City Jazz Record: Songs of Earth Jessica Williams (Origin) by Donald Elfmanstarstarstarstar

The four artists who make up this quartet of splendid new solo piano recordings are careful and thoughtful in their choice of both notes and spaces. The performances collected here are clearly about expression.

In concert at Seattle’s The Triple Door, on Songs of Earth Jessica Williams’ concept and technique are grand and symphonic but fall, as she rightly says, into no category or genre.

The individual pieces suggest a full spectrum of moods and colors as does, says Williams, the Earth. “Joe and Jane” is a kind of hymn in tribute to the men and women in the military, the mood sorrowful but also rhapsodic, working as a hopeful prayer for peace.

The one tune not composed by Williams is John Coltrane’s “To Be”, where she avoids any particular stylistic approach but seeks what Coltrane means to her in terms of freedom and invention. Williams’ latest influence, she notes, is Spanish guitarist Carlos Montoya, disliked by critics for straying from traditional form; his daring and bravery in doing so inspires Williams on her dedicatory tune “Montoya”.

The pianist’s understanding is revealed in her ability to suggest the mercurial passions of the guitar and the Spanish forms he both played with and transformed.

 

itemA JAZZ LISTENER'S THOUGHTS - 07-12 starstarstarstarstar

I was amazed that Jessica Williams is still a player whose music is very much under the radar. With her long list of accomplished CDs, both on her own labels and now for the sixth time on Origin with the latest, "Songs of Earth" (Origin 2012) I can only surmise that her location in the Northwest, touring schedule, and the fact that she has not been associated with other leaders as a member of their groups has limited her exposure. And now, as reported by Ted Gioia yesterday, it appears she will be out of the loop for a year or more as she has major back surgery and then will have a long recuperation.

I first came across Jessica Williams on MaxJazz with her first recording for them, "This Side Up" (MaxJazz 2002) and was immediatley hooked on a pianist with such energy and soul -- she was expresive, creative, and clearly a composer of incredible talent. Her range of playing, from the blues to ballads, from stride to bop, is immense, and her tip of the hat to her antecedents like Miles Davis, Milt Hinton and Dexter Gordon enhance her work. I immediately began to collect her music, picking up her other MaxJazz recordings "All Alone", "Live at Yoshi's Volume I" and "Live at Yoshi's Volume II" (2003, 2004, 2005). To quote from "AllMusic.com" on "All Alone":

This solo piano outing recorded in 2002 is among her finest efforts, especially in her refreshing approaches to standards and some usually overdone (and frequently underplayed) war horses. "As Time Goes By" has almost become a cliché due to its inclusion in the still popular film Casablanca, but Williams' quirky approach to it suggests Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, and Thelonious Monk at different times, yet never loses touch with the melody. Likewise, her playful little embellishment added to Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" suggests a wink and a smile accompanying the expected "I Love You" to someone special. Irving Berlin wrote many memorable songs during his long career, but the pianist chooses two that aren't heard all that often in jazz settings, "All Alone" and "They Say It's Wonderful," with their often maudlin settings drastically altered. Her originals are just as remarkable. The captivating melody of her delicate ballad "Toshiko" glistens, while she playfully hand-mutes the piano strings and incorporates a little strumming of them as well in her infectious and bluesy "The Sheikh." (AllMusic.com)

Williams' recordings go back to 1976 (she was born in 1948) and generally consist of trios and solo recordings. Her earlier recordings often celebrated individual composers for their thematic materials, and she has done discs dedicated to Monk ("In the Key of Monk" (Jazz Focus 1999)), Bill Evans ("Joyful Sorrow" Blackhawk 1998)), as wllas ones to Art Tatum and Fats Waller. Her touch is magnificent and vocabulary immense, but it is the originality with which she approaches each tune -- her own or covers -- that makes her playing stand out. Any recording of hers has been a joy to listen to, and each has moments of sheer brilliance in her interpretations or her dexterity or her dedication to the greats who came before her.

Williams has established a working partnership with Origin Records, beginning with "Billy's Theme" (Origin 2006), dedicated to Billy Taylor, and has since created a half dozen works of increasing brilliance, culminating with the newest recording, "Songs of Earth", a solo outing that has just appeared. It is a set of six originals and "To Be" by John Coltrane, and continues her long run of incredible mastery on the piano, expressive creativity with her almost toally improvised selections, and soulful expressions of love for the earth and its beauties as heard in the music and expresed in the accompanying written material.

William's repertoire is vast and her recordings both in the studio and live are full of energy and class. Her earlier recordings are available on her website, and her later ones on MaxJazz or Origin are readily available at stores or on-line. I would be hard pressed to pick out a place to start, so suggest you decide if you want to hear great interpretations of standards or lush new songs by Williams herself; trios or solo piano; and then make your pick.

Willimas should be in the modern pantheon of pianists with Corea, Hancock, Jarrett, Mehldau and others, and it is a shame she is not recognized as such.


itemJessica Williams, “Songs of Earth” starstarstarstarstar MUSIC REVIEW by George Fendel, Jazz Society of Oregon, 2012

Over a period encompassing several engagements at Seattle's The Triple Door, pianist Williams compiled six original compositions (of the seven played here) which seemed to have a common thread. All were completely improvised on the spot, and in her effort to meld them into an artistic whole, she chose pieces which complement one another.

While the term "jazz pianist" is an honorable title, I've always felt that Williams takes it a step further in terms of the creation of high art. And that she does in this solo performance with songs that defy category.

Whatever one wishes to call it, one can't escape the fact that Williams' melodies are often rich and riveting, passionate and beautiful. A few examples of all of that are "Poem," a delicate entry with a stirring melody line and a sort of left hand vamp to add tension.

"Montoya" is her dedication to flamenco guitarist Carlos Montoya, beautifully created on the spot . "Joe and Jane," in Williams's words, is a sorrowful psalm and a thank you to all who have served in the armed services.

On all of these and others, Williams plays from her heart and invites you to share in this honest and emotional performance.

 

itemJessica Williams, “Songs of Earth” by Ken Dryden, All Music, 2012 starstarstarstarstar

Jessica Williams has built a following with her introspective style of solo piano. Songs of Earth compiles performances from several years of her appearances at The Triple Door in Seattle, most of which were improvised on the spot. "Deayrhu" (a title she admits that she can't explain) is a fluid, shimmering work with several dramatic shifts. The bittersweet undercurrent of "Poem" (a written composition) is ever present, supported by its pacing bassline. "Montoya" salutes the great Spanish classical guitarist; one can easily imagine this moving classically flavored piece being arranged for his instrument. "Joe and Jane" is Williams' powerful salute to the considerable sacrifices of men and women who serve in the various branches of the U.S. military. Its brooding air gives it the feeling of a requiem, though it was surprisingly improvised rather than written out. Her superb "The Enchanted Loom" pulses with energy, adding a bit of string strumming for effect and eventually evolving into a raga setting, with Williams playing dazzling improvisations with her right hand, accompanied by her droning bassline. John Coltrane's "To Be," penned rather late in his career, is rarely recorded. Williams dives into his demanding work, playing darting improvised lines that blend raga and free jazz in her extended finale. This beautifully recorded collection with appreciative and quiet audiences represents one of Jessica Williams' best releases in her vast discography.

 

itemJessica Williams, “Songs of Earth” by Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz.com, 2012 starstarstarstarstar

Jessica Williams, with her last four CDs on Origin Records, is like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. Earlier in her career, Williams—who once held the piano chair in drummer Philly Joe Jones band—wrapped her artistry in the Great American Song on Some Ballads Some Blues (Red and Blue, 1999), along with stellar tributes to departed star pianists Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk.

Around the beginning of her teaming with Origin Records—in conjunction with the creation of her own Red and Blue Records label—Williams, always a top level musician with huge technique, began to blossom. With her Origin Records discs—Song for a New Century (2008), The Art of the Piano (2009), and, especially, Touch (2010)—Williams veered in a new and very personal direction, feeling her way through the music and finding a new voice of freedom and stunning beauty.

Now there is Songs of Earth, another push forward.

The music here is mostly spontaneously composed by Williams alone at the piano, recorded live during several sessions at Seattle, Washington's Triple Door and put together by Williams to create an expansive aural novel full of majesty and mystery, tenderness and awe. Williams is nearly unrivaled in her ability to marry a classical level of technical proficiency to her joyous sense spontaneity and endless sense of wonder.

"Deayru" opens the book, a lush solo piano symphony shifting from a strong percussive depth to an ephemeral fragility, setting the stage for all that follows. "Poem" is one of three tunes here not composed in complete spontaneity, along with "Little Angel" and saxophonist John Coltrane's "To Be." But, as Williams explains in the disc's liner notes: ..."the amount of notes actually written is far outnumbered by the amount improvised spontaneously," which sounds like it could serve for a partial definition of jazz in general.

Williams' influences are many. Her latest is the late Spanish guitarist Carlos Montoya. In her 2009 interview with All About Jazz, Williams said of Montoya's playing of traditional Spanish tunes: "He improvised like crazy...with an abandon in his playing. He did anything he wanted to." That abandon—under the influence of enormous skill and audacity—is what Williams' music is now all about. On "Montoya," she extracts almost guitar-like sounds from the piano and glides into a gorgeous and poetic Spanish-hued prayer.

Coltrane was also an author of musical prayers. Williams closes with "Trane's" "To Be." Proving herself one of the saxophone legend's finest interpreters with Freedom Trane (Origin Records, 2011), this searching, ten minute-plus ode to existence mirrors Coltrane's approach, with Williams taking her search for truth and beauty—here and on the entire set—up above the earthbound steeple tops.

 

itemMUSIC REVIEW: Jessica Williams, “Songs of Earth” by Rob Young, Urban Flux starstarstarstarstar2012

It wasn’t until recently had the honor to listen to pianist Jessica Williams play for the first time. With that said, her latest recording “SONG OF EARTH” is simply stunning accomplishment for her. In fact, I have a tendency of shying away from solo recordings but I’m reminded with this lovely offering by Williams of the importance of artists recording solo projects. Moreover, I’m still in awe by the fluidity of her compositions, ambient tone and commanding yet graceful dexterity that’s absolutely unparalleled. Maybe it’s because the songs selected for this album were from “live performances” at The Triple Door, Seattle, WA? Perhaps it really doesn’t matter if it’s live or studio, Jessica Williams has more then enough music to get acquainted with. In the meantime, I do challenge listeners to become familiar with the composers warm, complex and distinct voice.

 

itemJessica's Liner Notes

SONGS OF EARTH - JESSICA WILLIAMS, piano, composer

Of all of the planets in our solar system, only Earth provides the resources and conditions necessary for our survival. It seems to me that we’re all here to protect and provide for her, as she is here to protect and provide for us. It doesn’t matter if many thousands of rabid politicians, building contractors, or energy companies make many thousands of TV commercials to convince us otherwise. Their crafty words lose all meaning when compared to the Earth’s Wisdom when she raises her voice. Even her gentle whispers can seem to us a mighty roar. The shifting of a single tectonic plate can change or end the lives of multitudes.

The music that comprises this collection was all inspired by our Mother, the Earth, and by ourselves, her Children. Most of my music has always come from some "source" hidden to me: a spiritual mix of the natural world around me, the beautiful beings that inhabit that world, and my impressions of it all. I didn't intentionally set out to create this collection. It created itself through countless listenings of the raw recordings, as the separate pieces became a single story in my mind. It seemed as if I was subconsciously writing a novel about the hubris of our species, the majesty of our beautiful blue planet, and the potential for peace and balance within our shared space. It was a novel written in public, without the usual attendant stiffness and predictability of some thematic suites. The theme, while oceanic in scope, is musically subtle, because the intention of it did not exist during its performance.

SONGS OF EARTH is very different than other albums I have ever made. It contains much more pure improvisation. It refuses to declare itself of any genre, such as jazz, classical, new age, gospel, blues, etc. It contains all of the forms that I heard at the moment I played them. It contains very few (if any) pre-rehearsed lines, which in itself is gratifying to me. It exists only for the solo piano, it is symphonic in nature, and it adheres only marginally to any of my previous works in its forms and structures. It is as visual to me as it is aural, meaning that I see colors in it and shapes within shapes, archetypal designs and natural patterns within a lacework of fragile simplicity. And most important, I hear a mysterious quality that I am personally at a loss to explain.

For just one example, the first piece is entitled "Deayrhu" (pronounced day-roo) and I’m unable to tell you why it’s titled thus or even why it’s spelled this way. I knew when I played it, for the very first time ever, in front of a large audience, that its name was "Deayrhu". It may or may not be a 'real word' in any terrestrial language, but I believe that it’s a word (or a sound) that has meaning on some level. I heard the word as I played the piece. These kinds of experiences aren’t foreign to me, but they certainly are rare. Additionally, "Deayrhu" defined all of the pieces to follow when I began compiling this album for release.

I "wrote" all of the pieces here, with the exception of "To Be", which was written by the great saxophonist, John Coltrane. When I say "wrote", I mean "composed", but I do not necessarily mean written down on manuscript paper. The word "created" might be a better choice of wording for my process. I also wrote "Poem", and it was one piece that I actually notated, as I also did very sketchily for "Little Angel" (a previously unheard piece inspired by my Boston Terrier.) Those two creations are the only ones that were scribbled on paper, and the amount of notes actually written are far outnumbered by the amount improvised spontaneously. Often, the only reason for me to write anything on paper is so that I'll remember it.

"Montoya" is a tribute to the brilliant Spanish guitarist, Carlos Montoya. Disliked by critics for his refusal to play the "compas" in their traditional classical form, he was a maverick, and he played the Flamenco at any tempo he chose, which was often several tempi in one piece. His playing influenced mine dramatically when I first heard it, and I continue to hear the echoes of his guitar resonating in my piano. His freedom of expression was awesome and brave.

"Joe and Jane" is a thank-you and a sorrowful psalm to those who serve so bravely and at such cost to themselves in our military. Whatever politics one espouses, these men and women are worthy of our appreciation and our dedication to a more peaceful and loving future on this Earth.

"The Enchanted Loom" is a metaphor for the human brain, as described by neuroscientist Charles Sherrington in a passage from his 1942 book, 'Man on his Nature', in which he describes what happens in the cerebral cortex during arousal from sleep. In his own words: "The great topmost sheet of the mass, that where hardly a light had twinkled or moved, becomes now a sparkling field of rhythmic flashing points with trains of traveling sparks hurrying hither and thither. The brain is waking and with it the mind is returning. It is as if the Milky Way entered upon some cosmic dance. Swiftly the head mass becomes an enchanted loom where millions of flashing shuttles weave a dissolving pattern, always a meaningful pattern though never an abiding one; a shifting harmony of sub-patterns." The "loom" he refers to was undoubtedly meant to be a Jacquard loom, used for weaving fabric into complex patterns. And the drone and the structure of the piece very soon becomes East Indian, a sort of Raga in 5/4 time. The word raga actually translates to “color, beauty, and melody” in Sanskrit.

And lastly, John Coltrane's "To Be" is as free as my own Nature has driven me to become; I evade any stylistic reference, but after listening a few times I hear the "sheets of sound" of Coltrane's invention, and I hear the neoclassical musings of Claude Debussy and Eric Satie, as well as a very strong showing by my latest influence, Carlos Montoya. I hear the roar of the sea at times, especially at the end of my pieces, and I deeply appreciate the fact that my audiences wait at least a few seconds until I remove my fingers from the keys before applause ensues. I also appreciate the applause, of course!

With so many stylistic variations and so much freedom and with the wildly unusual methods of "composition", how does this all fit together?

I hope that it's very much like our Mother Earth. Diverse and placid, dramatic and whimsical, unpredictable and tranquil, all infused with millions and billions of flashing lights, all of differing colors and brightness. As the neuroscientist Sherrington put it, "it is as if the Milky Way entered upon some cosmic dance." And we are at the center of it all.

I hope this brings you joy.

Jessica Williams, Apr 27, 2012

 

  1. Deayrhu -7:43- Jessica Williams, JJWMusic/ASCAP
  2. Poem -5:51- Jessica Williams, JJWMusic/ASCAP
  3. Montoya -8:57- Jessica Williams, JJWMusic/ASCAP
  4. Joe and Jane -7:14- Jessica Williams, JJWMusic/ASCAP
  5. Little Angel -8:45- Jessica Williams, JJWMusic/ASCAP
  6. The Enchanted Loom -6:22- Jessica Williams, JJWMusic/ASCAP
  7. To Be -10:12- John Coltrane, JowCol Music/BMI
  • Jessica Williams, Steinway Model ‘D’ Grand Piano
  • Recordist, Craig Montgomery
  • Mixed by Jessica Williams in March 2012
  • Mastered by Dan Dean
  • Selections chosen from several live solo performances at The Triple Door in Seattle, Washington, USA
  • Produced by Jessica Williams and John Bishop for OriginArts Recordings

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