Jessica Williams


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Jessica Williams has amassed an impressive discography over her decades-long career, but as she entered her sixties, she began focusing more on solo piano. This is her second concert recording at The Triple Door in Seattle, a dinner theater with a majestic nine-foot Steinway D grand piano. Her touching, lyrical interpretation of "I Loves You, Porgy" (a favorite of Bill Evans) is full of rich voicings, while her thoughtful setting of John Coltrane's "Wise One" is reflected as a brooding lament. Williams' stunning performance of Charles Mingus' moving tribute to Lester Young, "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," is accented by her skillful use of the pedal to accent the anguish within this jazz standard. Her originals also deserve strong praise. "Rosa Parks" is an understated ballad honoring the brave woman whose actions sparked the Montgomery bus boycott during the struggle for civil rights. Williams' dramatic ballad finale, "Simple Things," incorporates a bit of subtle humor. The audience recognized that they were in the presence of a jazz master that evening, remaining hushed throughout each selection, graciously allowing the final notes to fade before applauding. Williams' liner notes are an added bonus, explaining her approach to piano and the reason that some pianists sing along as they play, and openly admitting that she will stop midway into a piece during a performance if she feels it doesn't suit her on that occasion. Jessica Williams' Touch is destined to become not only a high point in her discography, but one for solo jazz piano as a whole.

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