Archived News (overflow from here)
My favorite part of what Bill Maher had to say to Bush the other night on his HBO show:
'... I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. And eliminating the sales tax on yachts.
Turning the space program over to the church.
And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.
But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal.
You're a catastrophe that walks like a man.
Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire metropolis to rising water and snakes.
On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans...
Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.'
Bill Maher is hitting his stride. None of us hate poor George. Many of us just want him to get a nice day job doing something a little less ... dangerous.
Let's consider Bill Shatner for prez. At least we'll be amused.
Musicainers (a word we used to use to describe ourselves, or 'Eulipians', Rahsaan Roland Kirk's word, meaning dedicated spirits, traveling the world, healing and ministering to the people with their gifts) should never read what critics write about them. And NEVER believe it's true. Just because some guy in the fourth row has a legal pad and a ball-point and has one foot up on the chair of the person in front of him doesn't make him Judge of the World and All He Surveys. It makes him a guy with a legal pad and a ball-point. If he knows so much about what we're doing up there on the stage, why doesn't he come up there and show us how it's done?
I'm starting to think that if you get all good reviews, you're doing something wrong. I think that when you make their bungholes squinch, when you make 'em squirm in their seats, that maybe that's just what they need...that and a good laxative. Who said it? 'Critics write about it, and we do it.'
Philip Elwood, a great guy and a longtime reviewer for the SF Examiner, said that if he couldn't say anything nice, he didn't write anything at all. Maybe that's not critical enough for some, but he sure is one beautiful man!
Elvin Jones redefined jazz drumming, and proved that the drum is a musical instrument, not just something you hit with a stick
I wrote a poem for Elvin, and made an album of egoless, meditative solo piano (I love it, and I'm pretty tough on myself) dedicated to Mr Jones, called Offering (a Limited Edition on my own label, recorded 3 days after he passed on). Hear it, read reviews, buy it
Some buyer's comments about Offering
Dear Jessica, CDs arrived safely this morning and have managed to hear a couple of tracks of 'Offering' - absolutely superb. Beautifully relaxed playing- Thank you so much and keep producing these brilliant CD's. You have given me many hours of pleasure. Brian ___, UK
Hi Jessica, Thanks for the unexpected gift of your 'Offering'. What a lovely surprise and how very much appreciated. Thanks again - and God bless. John ___, UK
Dearest Jessica; The CD arrived today listening to it now, the sound is good, the piano sounds good to me on my little system, full round sound, gorgeous. Jessica this CD is brilliant! Yippee. We thank the Universe for the arms and hands and spirit of Ms Jessica Williams. I LOVE IT! -Vicki___ , Australia
Dear Jessica, Thank you for sending me some of your music. i just put 'Offering' on, after reading your beautiful dedication, and it's so peaceful to feel you living and breathing, at one and at home inside the music, wherever you go. Benny G___,NYC
What might be missing from lots of jazz music right now? I think it might be the focus on the musician over the music. Great musicianship is admirable; it can impress you. Great music is transcendent; it can change you. Now it is the time for us to change it.
I admit to being very gratified by my appearance at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center in DC. The standing ovation was very healing. My band played like angels, and I'd like to thank everyone for making that a very special and memorable night for us. I met Toshiko Akiyoshi, and played my tune Toshiko (mp3, 500k) for her. She is one of my inspirations, and it was a great honor for me.
Sometimes I just have to express my emotions. To my friends and fans who have purchased my CDs here, attended my concerts all over the world, and sent me thousands of e-mails and letters of support. Love is a powerful and immutable force that finds roots in the souls of every human with an ear to hear and a heart to feel; and the people that have purchased my music from this site are among some of the most beautiful human beings I have ever had the pleasure to know. I stand in the shadow of giants, and I share this gift from the Universe as openly and as honestly as I can. This Music is a sacred obligation, and a mission, and one I'm deeply blessed to follow. Thank you all very much.
Recently I played a house concert for some of the nicest people I've met in years and had a great time. I played Moon River for Ralle, and she cried. Not from angst, hopefully. Thank you for the beautiful evening.
My new cd on Maxjazz; out now. Featuring my bandmates Victor Lewis and Ray Drummond, it is a beautiful and powerful collection. It was the result of a recording we made at our last date at Yoshi's in Oakland, CA. I am very lucky to be in the company of such giants.
A whole week of playing with my NYC band (myself on piano, Victor Lewis on drums and Ray Drummond on bass) and weeks later I'm still burning inside, my heart still raw from the passion of The Music.
I felt things shifting inside of me; I started breathing differently, and I heard things in my own playing that I liked (and a whole lot of things I didn't like) and it made me realize again that the Miles Davis 'miracle band' (Tony Williams, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter) had months and years together to develop ESP. That music was not just genius and inspiration...it was hard work, years in the making. And the result was a magnificent union of discipline, form, and freedom.
On the down side, I wish that Jazz Music was as revered and funded in the USA as it is in, say, Japan or France. We'd all work more. Then again, on the up side (always the best viewing angle) it seems as if there are more people waking up to the Music and recommitting themselves to it with greater passion and the proper respect. And I personally love America for it's potential, for its endless possibility, for its freedom.
It seems to me that our part of the world is going through a glacial but profound change; while there are still the same problems and sadnesses, there is a theme of waking up in the air. Lots of folks won't wake up, ever. But at least there are large numbers of people who are realizing that there's more to life than material acquisition, that true human beauty is not just in 'how you look', that music and art and truth are as necessary as air and water, and that people, all people everywhere, need freedom.
We are blessed to live in a time of such potential for good. It's up to us now to make it good. And keep it good. My job (the only job I've ever had or ever will) is simple. I'll play my Music and try to be a better person and a better musician...try to heal myself and as many others as possible. I have a tiny little place in this Music, and I'll do my job, remembering that my music is the best within me, and so it speaks more clearly than I'll ever do in words.
As I said to the audience in Seattle a few weeks back after a very high set, 'we're proud to serve.'
I'm having a good time. I hope life stays good for me before inexorable entropy sets in. I'm already getting gray hairs (and I will not dye my hair; I never have and I won't start now) and the skin on my elbows 'crinkles'. So what. I'm not dying anytime soon. After all, there are a few record executives that I MUST outlive. Out of sheer revenge.
It blows my mind to think that I have so very much while so many others have so very little. The illness, the poverty, the suffering is appalling to me. I think we all feel helpless at times; this world is very full of suffering, and it's overwhelming.
Don't go taking Prozac or drinking or smoking or doping to cut the pain though- we're supposed to FEEL that; that's what makes us DO something. If I do my Music that's something...at least some folks get some joy out of it, and I love doing it. But I want to do more. Last year I didn't do enough for others. I want to get myself involved again with things and people outside of my self, for reasons other than my self.
Playing for the folks in the old-age homes was such a gas for me, and it felt good seeing them have fun singing together (Let me Call you Sweetheart was the big hit) realizing that these folks weren't too much older than I am. I'm going for that more in 2005. That and other things, things not so much about me. I've got what I need.
Keith Jarrett said a few years ago, 'I'm too tired to be hip.' It's too much trouble. Being yourself is the hippest thing you can be!
I love playing for people; making things, using Photoshop, doing projects, writing scores, building web sites, writing code, recording and mixing albums, programming sequencers, implementing strategies, solving problems, using my hands to make art, playing other instruments like organ, bass, drums, and just generally USING what I know to make things work. It's too broad for a CV, it's not from post-grad studies, and in an age of super-specialization, it's not terribly viable. But it's fun!
The idea that a musician can do only one thing is a terribly stultifying concept. Everything that we do in a capitalist society is about other people; it's about trade and service, about respect and work, about knowledge and reciprocation. For a musician, it's about sharing responsibility for the success or failure of a concert, about self-promotion, about accepting the notion that to please everyone is impossible, but that to play only for yourself is egoistic self-destruction.
I let people know what I need and want. Business can never flourish if it's built on sand. You could play like ten Oscar Peterson's, but you won't work if you don't value your self. I never let another human being place a value on what I do. I put the value on each thing I make.
If you don't love what you are doing, you won't succeed in business. So don't try to do something else, something weird, something totally divorced from your inner voice. Don't try to be someone you're not; be yourself, and do what you do best, and throw your whole life into it. You won't fail. You may have a hard life... you may not make a LOT of money... but you'll succeed.
John William Coltrane has been my light through the darkness. When there are questions, I'll ask 'what would Philly Joe Jones or Dexter Gordon do'; and when things get REALLY weird, I can ask the 'Trane.
Right now, John's beautiful album 'A LOVE SUPREME' (on Impulse) is on my CD player. I've lit a few candles and am burning some incense.
John just launched into 'Psalm'. Elvin is playing the kettle drums and cymbals, Jimmy is playing these beautiful (so subtle) counterpoints to John's reading of the prayer to the Universal. McCoy is an ocean wave. John speaks through his horn: 'no road is an easy one, but they all go back to God'.
We are star-stuff, we are one vibration in a standing wave, and it doesn't matter if it's called G-d or goddess or Allah or Aum or Chi or Orgone. It's gravity and light-years and galaxies colliding and little kittens and bodily love and that chill you get when you listen to great music or see a great painting or hear the sounds of the forest.
When I was younger, I didn't understand about Power. I thought it was something men had, something that the science of men had made real. Now I know that Power is within everyone, and that it can cure or kill, heal or destroy, give joy or pain.
The Power is in the human heart, and it can choose its manifestations. It can be a force of good or of evil. It can bring harmony or destruction. It can make life heaven or hell. I personally prefer heaven. It works this way for me: I get to give away my Power through my piano, and it translates (most often) as a force that unifies and purifies.
John Coltrane only lived for 40 years, but he was seeking a path to enlightenment, and in his seeking he led many of us to join the search. In the words of Coltrane, I have found the beacon by which I set the course of much of my life:
'I want to be a force for real good. I know that there are bad forces here that bring suffering to others and misery to the world, but I want to be the force which is truly good.' -John Coltrane