All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

3

Jessica Williams: Songs of Earth

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Jessica Williams, with her last four CDs on Origin Records, is like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. Earlier in her career, Williams—who once held the piano chair in drummer Philly Joe Jones band—wrapped her artistry in the Great American Song on Some Ballads Some Blues (Red and Blue, 1999), along with stellar tributes to departed star pianists Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk.

Around the beginning of her teaming with Origin Records—in conjunction with the creation of her own Red and Blue Records label—Williams, always a top level musician with huge technique, began to blossom. With her Origin Records discs—Song for a New Century (2008), The Art of the Piano (2009), and, especially, Touch (2010)—Williams veered in a new and very personal direction, feeling her way through the music and finding a new voice of freedom and stunning beauty.

Now there is Songs of Earth, another push forward.

The music here is mostly spontaneously composed by Williams alone at the piano, recorded live during several sessions at Seattle, Washington's Triple Door and put together by Williams to create an expansive aural novel full of majesty and mystery, tenderness and awe. Williams is nearly unrivaled in her ability to marry a classical level of technical proficiency to her joyous sense spontaneity and endless sense of wonder.

"Deayru" opens the book, a lush solo piano symphony shifting from a strong percussive depth to an ephemeral fragility, setting the stage for all that follows. "Poem" is one of three tunes here not composed in complete spontaneity, along with "Little Angel" and saxophonist John Coltrane's "To Be." But, as Williams explains in the disc's liner notes: ..."the amount of notes actually written is far outnumbered by the amount improvised spontaneously," which sounds like it could serve for a partial definition of jazz in general.

Williams' influences are many. Her latest is the late Spanish guitarist Carlos Montoya. In her 2009 interview with All About Jazz, Williams said of Montoya's playing of traditional Spanish tunes: "He improvised like crazy...with an abandon in his playing. He did anything he wanted to." That abandon—under the influence of enormous skill and audacity—is what Williams' music is now all about. On "Montoya," she extracts almost guitar-like sounds from the piano and glides into a gorgeous and poetic Spanish-hued prayer.

Coltrane was also an author of musical prayers. Williams closes with "Trane's" "To Be." Proving herself one of the saxophone legend's finest interpreters with Freedom Trane (Origin Records, 2011), this searching, ten minute-plus ode to existence mirrors Coltrane's approach, with Williams taking her search for truth and beauty—here and on the entire set—up above the earthbound steeple tops.

Track Listing: Deayru; Poem; Montoya; Joe and Jane; Little Angel; The Enchanted Loom; To Be.

Personnel: Jessica Williams: piano.

Title: Songs of Earth | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Origin Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Paradise of Love

Paradise of Love

Jessica Williams
With Love

Poem

Poem

Jessica Williams
Songs of Earth

The Seeker

The Seeker

Jessica Williams
Freedom Trane

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

Jessica Williams
Touch

Prophets

Prophets

Jessica Williams
The Art of the Piano

Tadd's Delight

Tadd's Delight

Jessica Williams
Now!

Wise One

Wise One

Jessica Williams
Prophets

Empathy

Empathy

Jessica Williams
Songs for a New Century

Vital Signs

Vital Signs

Jessica Williams
Vital Signs

Blues For BT

Blues For BT

Jessica Williams
Billy's Theme

CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
Interviews
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
With Love

With Love

Origin Records
2014

buy
Songs of Earth

Songs of Earth

Origin Records
2012

buy
Freedom Trane

Freedom Trane

Origin Records
2012

buy
Jessica Williams: Freedom Trane

Jessica Williams:...

Origin Records
2011

buy
The Art of the Piano

The Art of the Piano

Origin Records
2010

buy
Jessica Williams: Touch

Jessica Williams:...

Origin Records
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read Undercurrent - Live at Theater Gutersloh CD/LP/Track Review
Undercurrent - Live at Theater Gutersloh
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Lake of Light: Compositions for AquaSonics CD/LP/Track Review
Lake of Light: Compositions for AquaSonics
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Invisible Atlas CD/LP/Track Review
Invisible Atlas
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Blue Dreams CD/LP/Track Review
Blue Dreams
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
Still Dreaming
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 24, 2018
Read A New Beginning CD/LP/Track Review
A New Beginning
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 23, 2018
Read "Get Up And Go" CD/LP/Track Review Get Up And Go
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 6, 2017
Read "Change Of Address" CD/LP/Track Review Change Of Address
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 6, 2017
Read "e.s.t. live in london" CD/LP/Track Review e.s.t. live in london
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 1, 2018
Read "Don't Blink" CD/LP/Track Review Don't Blink
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "Modern Lore" CD/LP/Track Review Modern Lore
by Gareth Thompson
Published: January 27, 2018
Read "To the Bone" CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by John Kelman
Published: August 26, 2017