Introducing Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams is a well-known and highly respected American pianist and composer.
- Dave Brubeck calls her "One of the greatest jazz pianists I have ever heard."
- McCoy Tyner says "Jessica is a beautiful player."
- Critics agree
Bill Evans asked her to share the stage on numerous occasions, while Dave Brubeck, McCoy Tyner, and Billy Taylor made sure she played most of the major concerts and festivals worldwide.
This three-time Grammy Nominee is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music. She played in the bands of Philly Joe Jones, Stan Getz, Eddie Harris, Tony Williams, Airto and Flora, Charlie Rouse, Charlie Haden, Bobby Hutcherson, and others
- She has released over 70 albums and written over 1000 compositions
- She holds a Fellowship with the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
- She has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; a Rockefeller Grant for composing; the Alice B. Toklas Grant for Women Composers, the ACSCAP+ Award, and more
During the past four decades, Jessica has recorded for Timeless Records, Maxjazz, Fantasy, Origin Arts, Jazz Focus, Candid, Concord Records, and others. She owns her publishing company, JJW Music, her new LLC called We R 1, the CD company Red and Blue Recordings, and her own Internet business, jessicawilliams.com. A frequent guest on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, she also appeared on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz. She's written scores for PBS and HBO and has toured the world from The Kennedy Center in DC to the Queen's Hall in the UK to the Opera House in Tokyo.
She is still very much active in her chosen profession and continues to be "a vibrant force on the contemporary music scene." - Rolling Stone
I write about me:
It seems to me as if a musician should write a little about their own view of their work and life. Critics write pretty words, and I’ve been lucky in that department. I appreciate every one of those wonderful reviews and comments. They really helped me.
Yet life happens. My spine collapsed in 2012 from a lifetime of grueling tours all over the world, and from playing very physical, demanding music. I lost everything after surgery, having actually died several times in the operating theatre, and so ask for help to buy a piano. I know it will come.
Being dead for even a short time, I returned changed, an optimist at last. Tales of woe are easy. Getting up, dusting yourself off and doing your best is the hardest thing. But it is the only way to climb mountains!
I built this web site myself, with no help, so apologies for the occasional techno-slip. I learned how to code and gradually learned how to sell my own music. And that suits me, because I enjoy learning how to make things go. It also suits me I've had much of my music pilfered by predatory corporate entities that pay music creators and songwriters like myself little to nothing,
I felt that my music should at least make a bit of money for me to live on. At 68, I'm not up for breaking my back by touring continuously at my age. I will tour, but only if I'm treated like a real live person!
And I love music with a passion. Music cascades forth from within me and runs through me like a river that empties into an ocean of peace and love. Music is a living thing that touches the absolute. It is one more reason to be grateful that I am alive!
So I make my music and release it here.
And there are tales to tell and words, so many words, that I could write. But it’s best just to say that I’m still here and I still am capable of making very compelling and powerful music. At least it sounds like that to me. And others, too, obviously. My web site has been here since before Google! My code? Back then it was an achievement to me when I made a rollover link!
Included are all the glowing compliments from the critics here. There were no bad ones that I know of. Once, I had boxes and boxes full of all the news clippings. But what the heck was I going to do, paper my walls with them? Come to think of it, I don’t even have all the recordings I made.
I’m totally devoted to music. I continue to write music without a piano, and I will not ever stop. I feel that I have another 25 years to work, and that will go by quickly, so I better get started.
You see, I’m not one of those city-dwellers that runs around all day with a cell phone, laptop, earbuds, portfolio, and stock-market tips. That stuff makes no sense to me. If we were meant to run around that fast and furious and multi-task continuously, just leave me out. Money is math and music is NOT math. It is music, generated in the right hemisphere of my brain. Money is all left-brained. I prefer love to money.
I rent a place where I can watch the birds circling above, with hills and dunes all around me, cradling me like a child.
We need peace to make things. Georgia O'Keeffe and Agnes Martin and a lot of other women went to the desert to work. Maybe the city is good to draw crowds. But making art requires being alone, patience, dedication, and concentration. Put that all together with occasional inspiration, and you have something good. These birds just love my music.
It goes without saying that I’ve never had much money — but I have always had friends. And dogs and cats. I also have a husband that lights up my life and makes me feel like a kid. Along with my music, that makes me feel very rich indeed.
Really, life is a lot better when it’s simple and one's Path is open before them.
What's going on NOW:
Manual update: Apr 6 2016
In mid-2012 I had a back operation, and had to send back my piano because the operation wiped me out financially. One needs to eat.
Now I am feeling much better, and wish to contribute more of my music — there is much more to do — but the absence of a piano has practically stopped my music from flowing forth.
Studio time is terribly expensive and not always the best route for recording solo piano. I need a piano that can be recorded by myself in my own place. I have two fine Aussie Rodes microphones and a top-end analog-digital setup for recording piano. I made many of my most popular discs at home. I have become a good engineer, I think. At least better than some of the ones I've paid for.
Yet I have no piano so I can not make CDs, or practice, or even play my music.
Every penny now goes towards a piano. A six or seven-footer, because I need that bass end and all of the variant overtones.
If it's possible for you, could you donate to my continuing recovery from back surgery and also to help me raise enough $ for a piano? I am deeply indebted to each of you — for buying my music, of course — but also for helping me stay alive and productive.
You might even have a piano you are willing to donate. I cannot take an upright because the action is totally different from a grand.
Things always work out in the end. We help each other through this life because we are all one family!
May all of you that read my words be blessed. Thank you so very much and I hope that you enjoy my music.
Photo by Jimmy Katz