Jessica Williams

Joyful Sorrow: A Solo Tribute to Bill Evans

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This solo piano CD is unusual in many ways. Jessica Williams' solo concert in tribute to Bill Evans (who died 15 years to the day prior to this performance) features four standards that were a part of his repertoire, "Flamenco Sketches" (which he performed as a member of the Miles Davis Sextet on the landmark Kind of Blue), plus three originals by Williams, but none of Evans' compositions. "Alone Together" is a bit off the beaten path with darting left-handed runs accompanying a sparse right hand; "My One and Only Love" and "I Fall in Love Too Easily" display Williams' lyrical side, while "My Man's Gone Now" proves to be a bit more adventurous. Her originals include the melancholy opener "I Remember Bill"; the oddly named "Joyful Sorrow," which provides Williams a chance to show off a bit; and her loping "Blue for Bill," which wraps the concert. The Black Hawk label, founded by Dr. Herb Wong, folded in the late '80s, but this recording was made in 1996, so the producers evidently started using the name again according to Wong, who said he had allowed the name to go dormant. Surprisingly, there is no aural indication one is listening to a concert, since the recording is free of any kind of audience reaction or intermittent noise. The CD has no catalog number but is a signed limited edition of 200 (possibly given out as a thank you gift for a fundraising event?), autographed by both the pianist and Carole Hand, the artist who provided the painting for the cover. Whether there was ever an additional pressing following this small 1998 pressing remains to be discovered, but in any case, jazz piano fans will want to locate this curious release.

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