How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
These two CDs recorded in September 2000 are amongst the latest output of Ms. Williams on her own record label. More than 30 CDs recorded for labels like Jazz Focus, HEP and Candid and others (the reviewer owns 28 and knows of three more) make Ms. Williams a very prolific artist. On her own label she takes control over all aspects of CD production. This time around, the artwork is quite lightweight, but the same doesnotapply to the music.
Solo Piano Compositions features original compositions, some are new tunes, others make welcome reappearances from previous CDs. Jessica Williams Plays for Lovers features an all standard program of ballads. All pieces are played in a pensive and quiet way and have emotional warmth to them. Both disks will appeal to anyone who likes intelligent solo piano with a very personal touch. Solo piano playing isn't easy as the artist needs to fill all the space and cannot rely on his band. Many players play too many notes that don't contribute to the musical substance. Not so Ms. Williams. In her very own way she gently conjures up harmonies or provides a steady left hand groove. But make no mistake: Ms. Williams is a technical master, a fact she reminds us of by interspersing some sparkle where it doesn't disturb the simple beauty. The sound quality of the recordings is excellent and fully brings the mood across.
One word about the title Jessica Williams Plays for Lovers. Don't believe it! The CD will play for anyone, lover or not. All you need is a heart to appreciate the music. Recommended!
Red and Blue Records can be found at www.jessicawilliams.com.
Track Listing: Solo Piano Compositions: 1) Innocence 2) Blues for Bill 3) Vision Quest 4) What's Next 5) Spoken Softly 6) Waltz for Red 7) Remembering 8) Elbow Room 9) Dark One 10) Simple Things
Jessica Williams plays for Lovers: 1) Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered 2) Don't Explain 3) That's All 4) I Loves You, Porgy 5) My Foolish Heart 6) I Wish I Knew 7) Flamenco Sketches 8) When I Fall in Love 10) Blue Moon 11) Naima