3 I Fall in Love too Easily
6 When I Fall in Love
8 It Might as Well be Spring
- For All we Know 5:26 Karlin, Wilson, & James
- My Foolish Heart 9:36 Victor Young & Ned Washington
- I Fall in Love too Easily 6:06 Jule Styne & Sammy Cahn
- Summertime 5:53 George Gershwin
- But Beautiful 6:33 Jimmy Van Heusen & John Burke
- When I Fall in Love 6:15 Victor Young & Ed Heyman
- Paradise of love 9:29 Jessica Jennifer Williams (JJW Music/ASCAP)
- It Might as Well be Spring 4:07 Rogers & Hammerstein
- Somewhere 3:32 Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim
This Week’s Pick: Jessica Williams, With Love (Origin)
May 12, 2014 by Doug Ramsey of JazzTimes
This masterpiece of quiet reflection is the pianist’s first recording since surgery repaired spinal deterioration that kept her out of action for more than two years.
With exquisite slowness, she explores eight standard ballads and her composition “Paradise of Love.” In her notes, Williams writes, “I wanted to make an album that while still rooted in jazz, relied less on technique and improvisation and more on emotive depth, melodic purity and space.”
Her approach to “My Foolish Heart,” “Summertime,” “But Beautiful,” “When I Fall in Love” and “I Fall in Love Too Easily” and the others accomplishes that goal.
Largely rubato, she lingers over phrases, nowhere more movingly than in “It Might As Well Be Spring.” For all the melodic purity, Williams’ harmonic originality is on full display. - May 12, 2014 by Doug Ramsey
Jessica Williams: With Love by George W. Harris - July 17, 2014
The most vulnerable of recordings, the solo piano, is well represented here under the hands of Jessica Williams. She creates about an hour’s worth of a mellow, reflective and ruminating mood on graceful readings of standards such as “It Might As Well Be Spring” and “For All We Know.”
Her touch on “My Foolish Heart” has an inquisitiveness about it, and while “But Beautiful” exudes grace, she still dazzles with technique, but as an accent and not as a centerpiece. She lets the torch of “I Fall In Love Too Easy” glow in regret, and brings rich hues to “Summertime.”
Impressive, and the feeling grows with each encounter.
With Love - Review
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication and that is Jessica Williams! by Brent Black, criticaljazz.com
Jessica Williams is a critically acclaimed pianist that has the reputation and the ability to go deep. Thanks to the misfortune of two rather serious health battles which she has documented and spoken of in great detail, Williams has embraced the lost art of melody with a string of sublime recordings on the consistently excellent Origin label. With Love is an intimate melodic journey through standards where the melody is harmonically uplifted into an emotive quality exploring the conceptual notion of love wrapped in a blanket of lyrical warmth.
At times a release that is deeply moving and it is the harmonic manipulation of melody that allows some of these time tested classics to take on a new life. The usual suspects are all here and include "My Foolish Heart" along with "When I Fall In Love" and "It Might As Well Be Spring."
A diamond in the rough on this release would be the Williams original "Paradise of Love" whose lyrical sense of direction fits hand in glove with the classics included on With Love. Very little needs to be said as With Love is a release that reviews itself. Solo piano is perhaps the most difficult if not dangerous musical format, Jessica Williams makes it seem easy!
Tracks: For All We Know; My Foolish Heart; I Fall In Love Too Easily; Summertime; But Beautiful; When I Fall In Love; Paradise of Love; It Might As Well Be Spring; Somewhere.
Personnel: Jessica Williams: piano. Posted by Brent Black at 6:36 AM, May 11, 2014
Jessica Williams: With Love (2014)
By DAN MCCLENAGHAN, Published: April 13, 2014
With Love: Successful musicians play "the truth." If you want to hear some truth there are certain artists you can seek out. Thelonious Monk couldn't play anything but the truth, right from the beginning. Pianist Jessica Williams came upon the truth—a purer form of it, at least—after experiencing "the fix of Illness" that she has discussed on her website and in interviews. Her first "fix" came about via her struggle with hypothyroidism, and resulted in a string of gorgeous recordings on Origin Records: Songs for a New Century (2008), Art of the Piano (2009), Touch (2010), and Songs of Earth (2011).
Williams' second fix came about with the deterioration of the lumbar region of her spine and the surgery to ameliorate the problem—again, well-documented on her website. The malady and the subsequent surgery sidelined her. With Love is her first post-surgery release. It is all ballads—mostly show tunes, familiar and encoded in the jazz canon: "For All We Know," "My Foolish Heart," "I Fall In Love too Easily,", Gershwin's "Summertime."
Williams, in the past, has been capable of impressive pyrotechnics, displayed up front on her marvelous Tatum's Ultimatum (Red & Blue Records, 2008) set, a tribute to the exuberant Art Tatum. And she's also capable of deep spiritual and musical depth as she is on her previous Origin Records outings.
This time out that flash, and her enormous technique, take a big back seat. The music on With Love is about simplicity, melodic purity and the emotions—mostly love—contained in the lyrics to these enduring movie/show and standards.
This straight ahead approach, this marinating in the melody without artifice, without flash or a hint of pretention, reveals the human side of the lyrical content of these songs—the truth of these songs. And Williams offers up one of her own compositions, "Paradise of Love," that fits in with the familiar, a lovely, human, truthful tune.
Track Listing: For All We Know; My Foolish Heart; I Fall In Love Too Easily; Summertime; But Beautiful; When I Fall In Love; Paradise of Love; It Might As Well Be Spring; Somewhere.
Personnel: Jessica Williams: piano.
Record Label: Origin Records
WITH LOVE by Chris Spector, Midwest Record
One of the magical things about Williams in performance is that she has the ability to take songs that countless piano bar players have beaten into the ground in various pummelings and make them sound fresh, new and distinct.
With a set card here of almost all chestnuts that have been beaten to death in a million piano bars, Williams is playing just for you and like a grand master.
Williams is one of those players that proves that she doesn't need anything but her own creativity to make a well rounded, full bodied session that blows you away. Killer stuff from a vet at the top of her powers. - Chris Spector, Midwest Record
WITH LOVE by George Fendel, Jazz Society of Oregon
Williams is an uncompromising artist who consistently produces one stunning album after another. In recent years, she has primarily recorded her own brilliant compositions. So this album of standards played solo is a welcome detour. She elects to state these serene and glistening melodies with only minimal improvisation. This is wise, because these melodies stand on their own. Every note says something, and Williams plays the necessary ones and the right ones.
I can picture her making the recording.
The emotion was in high gear, and you can hear it on every tune. And exactly which ones does she give us? How about "For All We Know," "My Foolish Heart," "I Fall in Love Too Easily," "Summertime," "But Beautiful," "When I Fall in Love," "It Might as Well Be Spring," Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere," and one dreamy original called "Paradise of Love." Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? It's okay, so do I. I guess I just love "pretty." And this, believe me, is pretty. - George Fendel, Jazz Society of Oregon
WITH LOVE by C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz
Pianist Jessica Williams produces for the piano in With Love that Rebecca Parris and Beat Kaestli do in jazz vocals...a perfect jazz ballads recording. Williams does so in a solo piano setting not unlike what she has used in the past most recently on Song of the Earth (Origin, 2012), Touch (Origin, 2010) and The Art of the Piano (Origin, 2009). This is a recording the eclipses the majority of what passes for "ambient" or "new age" piano music by light years. Williams' performance only has one comparison and that is to the brilliant post-modern rendering achieved by Martial Solal on Live at the Village Vanguard: I Can't Give You Anything But Love (Cam Jazz, 2009).
Origin Records captures all of Williams' sumptuous playing on her personal piano. The effect is direct and penetrating, establishing a prime listening environment for these time honored ballads. A proper exercise would be comparing the performances of "My Foolish Heart" on this recording and those of Parris and Kaestli.
What Williams brings out in an instrumental interpretation of these ballads is the mind's eye of the creative soul. While lyrics remain paramount, listening to Williams' gentle deconstructions reveals the bare essence of the music in such a way that a proper communion between lyrics and melody can be understood. - C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz
Liner Notes by Jessica Williams:
- With Love [Solo piano ballads from Jessica Williams]
- Jessica Williams, solo performance in her own studio on her own piano in WA State
- Recorded January, 2014, by Jessica Williams
- Piano is a Yamaha C-7 Grand
- Produced by Jessica Williams. Photos by Duncan Arc
- Compositions by Jessica Williams are published by JJW Music, ASCAP
A decade ago, I was expected to make two or three albums during one single eight-hour recording session. Who was expecting this? Wiley record producers, of course. Why were they expecting it? To save money on studio time, of course. And who put a stop to this ridiculous practice? Why, little old me, of course.
By doing so, I also alienated most of those producers, who were really investment bankers who had decided that musicians could provide them with several golden opportunities not in keeping with the activities of the average investment banker: the opportunity to make money easily using the talents of others . . . the opportunity to be seen with some very hip musicians and to thus emulate their style of dress, diction, and behavior . . . and, of course, the opportunity to become even richer and fatter and more powerful than they had previously dreamed possible, not to mention the added perk of the groupies that they may attract while out "in the field" with the "big cats." That this period of my life is over is a source of much joy to me.
This album took me months to make! OriginArts has been my label of choice for my last five releases, mainly because its owner is not a "real" record producer. He's more of a friend, a drummer, a musician, a family man, and a very patient human being who understands the creative process intimately because he creates music himself. And, in actuality, this album took me years to make (a brief explanation below) and so I thank him for not just his patience but his respect of my art.
In essence, I wanted to record a series of pieces that were beautiful and without guile, simple and lovely and heartfelt in the extreme, and, for the most part, recognizable as the American standards that they had become. I wanted to make an album that, while still rooted in jazz, relied less on technique and improvisation and more on emotive depth, melodicism, and space. I don't believe that there is one "lick" or overt show of technique on this album, unless one ascribes the use of touch and pedaling and aesthetic taste to the realm of technique. I know that I do.
Most of the tunes were taken from movie scores. An example is a tune written by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn called I Fall in Love too Easily. I was watching a wonderful movie one night called "Brigadoon", starring the great actor, dancer, and fine gentleman Gene Kelly, and one of his sailor-sidekicks was played by a very very young Frank Sinatra. It was Frank's first major role, I believe, and he sang this tune alone, at the piano, with such grace and utter simplicity that it made me cry. The tune has a sixteen-bar form, without adornment. It stands as an island of idyllic peace within the framework of that marvelous movie, and I was as smitten by Frank's version as I was by Miles Davis' version on the record "Seven Steps to Heaven." And you can hear both versions of the tune in my reading here: the dense chords and the tension-release of its structure coupled with an almost shy approach to the entire atmosphere. Shy, and a bit forlorn. And after all, it helps to know the words when you're playing a ballad, and the words to this one are not particularly filled with jubilation.
I fall in love too easily, I fall in love too fast
I fall in love too terribly hard, for love to ever last
My heart should be well-schooled, 'cause I've been fooled in the past
And still I fall in love too easily, I fall in love too fast . . .
Dexter Gordon thought it was very important that at least he knew the words to the ballads he played. I am of the same mind. I watched crooners like Nat "King" Cole, Chet Baker, Frank Sinatra, and Johnny Hartman on YouTube, late at night. In this way, even if I left out a few "words", at least I knew them pretty well! And when you know something a little bit, you can change it with a certain degree of confidence. I certainly did that to the chord changes of most of the songs here. With impunity. And I did change melodies too. And key signatures, at my whim. And, as for the time? The time was plastic, elastic, and quite rubato. When I did fall into meter, it was that sweet slow time that I used to play with the "Philly Joe" Jones band: completely suave, self-assured, and with a certain occasional hesitation that we all just seemed to sense in the air. I think it was Philly taking a breath.
I might add here that yes, I know that this is my first release in almost two years. What on Earth have I been up to?
The truth is that my entire lumbar spine decided to collapse like the Roman city of Pompeii upon the inconvenient eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It may not have been that dramatic, but it was the most excruciatingly painful thing I've ever been through. It required a three-segment fusion operation (which boasts a mere thirty-percent success rate, but count me among the lucky ones) and, truth be told, I wasn't sure I'd ever play the piano again. I wasn't even sure I'd ever walk again. Now that I'm full of stainless steel screws and rods and bone-grafts and grommets, I won't be winning any piano competitions—I still have trouble keeping my feet on the pedals—but this album represents several things to me, lessons of a sort, and a certain maturation of my musical instincts. Darned, if something like that doesn't cause a certain maturation of something, you know you've got problems!
As for what I learned and am happy to share:
1. Always sit up straight. It may look very cool to slump over the keys with your nose touching middle C (just in case) but I can assure you that it will limit your shelf-life as a pianist. As we age, our spines dry out and the discs become less resilient. Children, don't do what I have done . . .
2. It's never about how fast you can play, about how many notes you can cram into a nanosecond. It's not about how you look, or about how technically astute you may be. It's not about you at all. It's about the music, and it's about communication. It's all about telling a story, creating a mood, casting a spell, and making the air vibrate long after the last note has died away. That's music. That's real music. You can't learn it at any school. The only thing you can learn at school is fingerings. And how to flirt.
3. Know your limitations and work within them. Be the best you can be on your own terms, within your own set of boundaries. Get good enough at that, and you'll become a real master. Think of all the people who have become successful by simply being themselves with panache! It's about style, self-belief, and knowing exactly who you are. You have to love yourself or no one else will. It's true!
And, as for what I want to share with you, personally:
This album is for you and you alone, you among the thousands of fans and friends that I never met (or met only briefly) that rallied 'round and helped me with words and money, gifts and prayers, encouragement and support of every kind! That's why I called it With Love. It's from me to you. It's the best I can give at the moment, and, in that, it's as honest and as true as anything I've ever created, ever, in my whole life. I want this to be clear. Even though it'll be heard by many other people, it is for you and you alone. So if the critics pan it and the meaner musicians laugh at it, it doesn't bother me in the slightest. It only matters to me that you to like it, because I made it for you.
You and you alone.
- Jessica Williams, Jan 28th, 2014
WITH LOVE - Dedication:
I give my deep and heartfelt thanks to Dr Richard Rooney, Dr David Hanscom, Dr Peter Shalit, Dr Dick Hoistad, and Dr Ted Zollman, for their expert medical assistance and intervention. I owe them my life. I also thank George Strong, Ronald Jolicoeur, Andrea Uehara, Eliza Willis, Leesa Foster, Pierre Boval, Gordie Woods, and so many others who have helped me along life’s often difficult but always worthwhile path. Special thanks to Sara Pritchard, Frank Herbert, Mary Oliver, Stephen King, and many other kindred spirits whose lives remain immersed in art, writing, poetry, philosophy, music—all of “The Humanities”—for their words and their gifts and their kindness. Many thanks to John Bishop, president and founder of OriginArts Records, not to mention the “drummer in residence.” My humble thanks to the many thousands of listeners who seem to “get” what it is that I have done all of my conscious life—make music with something special thrown in. They seem to understand what that “something special” is a lot better than I do. I also thank the much-missed Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., for supplying me with the finest answer ever as to why we’re all here: “Why, to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.” And, as always, my undying and infinite gratitude to the Fates for giving me such wonderful love and support in all that I do and all that I am from my two most staunch and unswerving partners in this stupendous experience called life, Elaine and Duncan. Finally, I thank my little dog Angel, my “Boston Terror,” for being always underfoot and always by my side, through literally everything. — JJW