3 Dark One
5 Getting Even
6 Country Miles
Total time: 59.00. Cover painting by Jessica Williams *Compositions by Jessica Williams, ©2005 JJWMusic ASCAP
Dear Jessica, I still feel that your "Virtual Miles" and "Song For Yusef" are two of the best and most creative albums I've encountered in a long time. Inspired by your "Song For Yusef" I purchased his "Eastern Sounds (1961)" and "Live At Pep's (1964)," and am enjoying both thoroughly. In spite of the fact that I've been collecting jazz albums (records, tapes, CD's) since 1962 I knew very little about Yusef Lateef before listening to your "Song For Yusef." I purchased it not because I knew about Yusef Lateef but rather for the configuration of instruments on it and the fact that you were the solo musician responsible for playing all of them. So I need to thank you for turning me on the yet another great Jazz artist about whom I was mostly ignorant before listening to your "Song For Yusef." So thank you very much for this. Unfortunately I know that there are many other excellent Jazz performers from both the past and present that I still don't know about. In fact I didn't know who you were either until I borrowed your "Yoshi-1" CD from my local city library in the Spring of 2005. I was "bowled over" by it and have been seeking out your music ever since.
Recently I was in my local Streetlight Records outlet. I know that you get nothing when I buy your CD's in a retail outlet, but there I found a used copy of your "All Alone" for $5.96!!! I couldn't resist the temptation so I bought it, brought it home and have been listening to it ever since. I like your music in "All Alone" very much. I want to respond to what you wrote inside "All Alone" about wanting to be a musician rather than a pianist. You are in my view without a doubt a consummate musician in every sense of the word as this beautiful album exemplifies. All alone you are indeed truly a musician and if anyone needs further evidence of that they need only listen to "Virtual Miles" and "Song For Yusef." - Phil Cicchi, frequent buyer and collector
'I admire the work that goes into your limited editions. They must take hours to make. I don't know where you find time. I'm a pianist (just a hobby) but I love your music not because it scares me or impresses me but because it makes me feel there is hope that I too may one day make great music, because it comes from the soul and not the hands, just like you said when you were here. As long as I remember that, I think I start to sound a little bit like you. Thank you, Ms. Williams, for these special cds and for your special gifts. -Wayne H___ in Des Moines, IA
Virtual Miles by Jessica Williams; 7-ft acoustic piano (Cline), keyboards, percussion, sequences, programming, engineering, digital mastering. All compositions cp2000 Jessica Williams, JJWMUSIC ASCAP
Liner Notes by Jessica Williams
VIRTUAL MILES is dedicated with great respect to one of my most important musical influences, Miles Dewey Davis.
I was fortunate enough to play with two of his drummers (Philly Joe Jones and Anthony Tilman Williams). Miles runs through everything I play. He courageously kept to his path and created music that was controversial and not always well-received by critics and audiences. His legacy is profound.
This is not 'computer music', whatever that is. It is digitally-assisted and electronic in some ways because I did use keyboards other than just an acoustic piano (although everything is built around the piano) but I never used a computer per se to create this music in any way. I did use two Peavey synthesizers along with my acoustic piano.
I've heard people say that they hate sythesizers because of their sound. A synthesizer sounds like whatever you want it to sound like. A digital sample of a drum, when played, sounds like a drum. When you play a cd, you are playing essentially the same thing: digital samples of the analog recordings of the 'real' thing. It is not my intention to enter into the philosophic and moral ramifications of whether the digital realm is 'real' or fake. (If it is fake, then our entire planet has become so. If it is real, then it is just an extension of reality, not ALL of it. A little common sense would do us all good at this point in human evolution.)
We should remember that, at one time not too long ago, a piano was a high tech item. It is a relatively new invention, appearing around Beethoven's time. Until then it was claviers and harpsichords. Old Ludwig couldn't hear these instruments, so he pounded on them till they were nothing more than kindling. With a synth, he could've put on bone-conductor headphones and wailed! And, not too long ago, the TV wasn't standard household equipment, and moral debates about its depravity and its deleterious effects on western civ abounded. Western civ has always been full of such reactionary resistance to new ideas and technology; perhaps every terrestrial society shares some of that fear-of-the-new. But, in the end, primates fall in love with their digital watches and cell-phones and cannot recall atime when they weren't de riguer. I'm no different, and it seems a waste to lose all of one's teeth because one refuses to use a sonic-assisted power toothbrush. That's how I see this 'tek' stuff; an extension of our consciousness, a tool, and, in the best cases, an implement to expand our creativity.
So the method of my art (this part of it) is this:
I'll start with a composition (usually mine) and hear it in my head. Usually I can even SEE the form it will take. I hear what the instrumentation would be if this world were a utopian system in which one could afford to assemble any musicians at any time to render the composition. Once I hear and see the intangible, I set out to make it exist in 4-space (our space) using the tools that the world has given me.
I'll lay down a drum track first (usually; there are always exceptions) using the 'inboard sequencer' of my favorite synth, the Peavey SI (which I programmed for them and wrote many of the demo sequences, by the way). I have the keyboard drums 'mapped'; the little finger of the left hand is the bass-drum...middle 3 fingers the toms, thumb the snare. On the right hand it's all cymbal work and drum-rolls. The hi-hat is left foot (pedal controller). Then I'll lay a bass part on. When I finally get all of that to swing, I'll put on a trumpet and sax or a flute. If I take a trumpet solo (which I consider to be my 'voice' on the e-jazz projects, hence my choice of a Miles tribute for the first release) I may later go back and re-do the bass and drum elements, to interact with the solo, as jazz IS interplay. It's just that, here, the interplay is with different elements of my own musical identity.
I should mention here that I have developed a style on each e-instrument I play. The e-flute, I play like a flute-player would play, with breath, and fluctuation of tone. I do play a little flute (the kind that one can hold in one's hand)... just enough to approach realism. As for the trumpet, I know the fingerings, the range, the physical properties. And most people know that I play the drums surprisingly well, and can play an acoustic bass as long as the tempo's not too fast... bass chops are acquired over years, with the callouses and all...not something I have the time or the will to maintain. And I cannot play a lick on the saxophone, but the synthesized sax is the hardest of all to attain any realism on, as the sax is such a complex aggregate of tones and overtones.
And, if one wants realism, one hires musicians, right? So I always remember that this is (partially, at least) e-jazz, and that the trumpet sound can be capable of things that a 'real' trumpet can't duplicate. I remember that I am creating a 'portrait', almost a painting with sound. The finished piece will work or it won't. If it's good music, it has worked.
Once I have 'written' the sequence to my satisfaction, so that when I hit that play button on the SI, I start dancing around the room, and I get all my sound levels correct (I am the engineer too, remember. I have a Mackie 16 track board, and, with the 8 tracks on the DPM3SE, and 16 tracks on the SI, plus lots more tracks with overdubbing and 'doubling', I can make symphonies here, and have, some which will be released eventually) it is time to put on the headphones, sit at the piano, and play along with this virtual band. I may do one take, I may do 30. Usually, a piece like 'Miles to Go' will take 3-4 hours, but there can be snags, and some pieces will be in progress for a week. Other projects I've done take months or years.
VIRTUAL MILES is the distilled product of almost ten years of work. I have enough music 'in the can' for another five volumes, at least...I simply chose the pieces that moved me the most, and they all come from a relatively late period in this work. As with any art-form, I've improved over the years, developed new skills and techniques, upgraded my equipment, etc. Some of that early music sure cooks, though!
I began VIRTUAL MILES without a thought to this conclusion, this album. I began it on the day he passed away. I was living in Seattle, and had had e instruments for a year or two. I had a trumpet sample that sounded a bit like Miles in certain registers...it began there. I recorded everything and still have those first 'tribute tapes'.
None of the samples here are samples of Miles. They are 'factory samples', and their copyrights provide for public-domain application. Like Internet Explorer, anyone can use it. If it sounds like the timbre he used, it's because I programmed it that way. The breath, the attack, the very-nearly-no vibrato, that's my doing. I would close my eyes and allow myself to visualize the pure aesthetic he created in performance. I wanted to capture that feeling, that stillness, that dark|light thing. That sad-yet-bouyant, mysterious, sometimes downright evil sound. 'Bad' is how it's refered to now. The music had a character, and it influenced me profoundly while I was growing up and learning to play. This was the SPIRIT of the music that forged the directions I took in my art and life. This was a part of me...Miles was a part of me, and still is.
His music was so circular and it had a softness to its power. Like a big jungle cat laying down and playing with its cubs.
Playing like a little kitten.
Leaving puncture wounds.
Just like that.
-Jessica Williams, Oct 2000, California
VIRTUAL MILES is lovingly, sincerely, and humbly dedicated to the invincible quality of creativity in the human heart, fully realized in the person of Miles Dewey Davis. Jessica Williams; 7-ft acoustic piano, keyboards, drums, bass, percussion, sequences, programming, engineering, digital mastering; all compositions cp2000 Jessica Williams, JJWMUSIC ASCAP. Cover art by Jessica Williams
Artist's Review of this CD: