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Jessica Williams: This Side Up

Jim Santella By

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As she interprets Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Theme for the Eulipians," Jessica Williams swaggers with the same attitude its composer possessed. A swinging blues feeling runs through her session, but the pianist's clearly defined keyboard technique takes her along a delicate path. The right hand paints light watercolor pastels that contain lightning streaks of contrast. Her left hand is freed up by the presence of a bassist, so Williams is able to supply a subdued countermelody and harmonic fill. In all, the piano's voices are intermingled with a fresh innocence that few possess. And this from a veteran. MAXJAZZ.com provides several pertinent audio samples. At times light and bouncy like a music box, and at times down and dirty on the dance floor, Williams is able to express her creative ideas in an everyman kind of way. Her original compositions have purpose. Homage is paid to Milt Hinton, Miles Davis and Dexter Gordon through three of the songs. For the most part delicate and gentle, Williams' album swings with a lyrical nature. This one receives an early nomination for best jazz album of 2002.


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