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This Side Up

Jessica Williams

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Album Review

This Side Up marks the third release in the MaxJazz label's Piano series and the first release in 2002. Previous releases in the series include Peter Martin's Something Unexpected and Bruce Barth's East & West. Jessica Williams composed all of the songs for this program and builds the excitement level from track to track with tributes to some of her major influences. Included is "Miles to Go" for Miles Davis — a mid-tempo bebop piece that showcases her brilliant arpeggios and multi-layered sound with drummer Victor Lewis and bassist Ray Drummond. She reconnects with Dexter Gordon on "I Remember Dexter" and honors bassist Milt Hinton on "The Judge." Top pick is "Innocence" for its quiet solitude and beauty — the perfect song for just relaxing and listening to jazz from an intelligent and spiritual perspective. Jessica Williams re-creates a buzz of interest in the world of young adults with this effective recording, and since her formidable reputation among her peers is rock solid, Williams' diverse repertoire should not remain a strange concept as a result of her inclusion in this remarkable Piano series.


Born: 17 March 1948 in Baltimore, MD

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Due to her being based in northern California, Jessica Williams is a bit underrated, but (on evidence of her sets for Jazz Focus and Hep) she is one of the top jazz pianists of today. Williams is a powerful virtuoso whose complete control of the keyboard, wit, solid sense of swing, and the influence of Thelonious Monk have combined to make her a particularly notable player. She started taking piano lessons when she was four and was gigging as a teenager. Williams took extensive classical lessons...
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This Side Up, Jessica Williams
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