THIS SIDE UP - Jessica Williams, piano; Ray Drummond, bass; Victor Lewis, drums, on Maxjazz Records - ALBUM AVAILABLE
1 The Judge (J. Williams)
2 Blue Tuesday (J. Williams)
3 Black Diamond full-length (R. R. Kirk)
4 Little Bird Song (J. Williams)
5 Serenata (J. Williams)
6 Miles to Go (J. Williams)
7 The Eulipians full-length (R. R. Kirk)
8 I Remember Dexter (J. Williams)
9 Innocence (J. Williams)
10 Off Blue (J. Williams)
Total time- 62:05 - This CD was listed in the Top Ten Jazz CDs for 2002 by Billboard and also by the Village Voice
Artist's Review of this CD:
'This Side Up will most likely hold up as the best trio outing I have heard this year and will make my end-of-the-year lists.' - C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz | read complete review
'Nothing short of brilliant.' - From JazzUSA, by Sidney Bechet-Mandela | read complete review
'This is one of those rare albums that will win a favored spot in any jazz fan's collection. Frequent plays only serve to demonstrate that Williams packs the good stuff.' -JazzTimes | read complete review
'I call this a 'must' experience.' - Bob Powers | read complete review
Reviewed by Shaun Dale of JazzReview
Widely respected among her fellow musicians, a somewhat unusual career path has made her one of the true hidden treasures of jazz. This release promises to give her access to a wider audience, and no one deserves it more.
She first appeared on the Philadelphia club scene while still in her teens, already accomplished enough to earn a spot in Philly Joe Jones group. By the late seventies she was in San Francisco, holding down the role of house pianist at the fabled Keystone Korner, sharing the stage with legends like Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Art Blakey and Tony Williams and holding her own all the way.
In order to escape the 'unhealthy lifestyle' that surrounded the jazz club scene, though, she carved out her own direction, securing a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the NEA that allowed her to compose and record her music on her own terms and primarily on her own label. That departure from the conventional jazz circuit accorded her the status of 'player's player,' but doubtless cost her something in the realm of public acclaim.
That acclaim is long overdue, and the music on this release proves that it is well deserved. Eight of the ten tracks are Williams originals, including tributes to Milt Hinton, Miles Davis and Dexter Gordon, all of whom she counts as major influences. While she doesn't offer a similar dedication to Thelonious Monk on the disc, her style and creative vision give unspoken but unabashed tribute to him as well.
I'm particularly grateful for her inclusion of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's 'Theme For The Eulipians.'
The Kirk book is too often overlooked, in no small part because it presents a formidable challenge for most players, but Williams is equal to the challenge and hearing this track for the first time was one of the genuine highlights of my listening year so far.
Accompanied by Ray Drummond on bass and drummer Victor Lewis, Jessica Williams has provided another valuable addition to the vocabulary of jazz with This Side Up.
Jazz for HWY 101, March, 2004: When I first heard this recording in a record store with great headphones I forgot my surroundings. I sat with my eyes closed, lost in the sublime mix of tempo, rhytm and subtleties, only to be surprised now and then by a funky sound which was never overdone. There are so many incredibly beautiful numbers on this CD , from the lyrical Blue Tuesday to the serious Serenata, that I suggest you buy this CD, sit down and listen. Really listen, as to a classical piece. This stuff is not for easy jazz lovers. This is serious jazz and it is wonderful. -Reviewer: A music fan from Sammamish, WA