Jessica Williams: Alone Together
Jessica Williams (piano)
Live at Yoshi's, Volume One (MAXJAZZ 210)
Composed by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz.
Recorded: live at Yoshi's, Oakland, CA, July 9-10, 2003
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
Sometime after Williams recorded this absorbing extended live version of "Alone Together," she surprisingly wrote the following on her website: "I've probably played 'Alone Together' for the last time, but the last time I played it, I forgot entirely about those extra bars tacked onto the A sections—the major-minor thing. It's one of those tunes that has fascinated me for a long time and then suddenly I lost interest. Maybe I just thought I liked it. Looking back, I don't think I ever did." Hopefully she'll reconsider, but until then we can enjoy this classic Williams' track (not to mention her previously recorded renditions), with a state-of-the-art rhythm team of Ray Drummond and Victor Lewis.
Williams typically breaks up the rhythm before flowing unaccompanied into the melody and embellishing it with interesting harmonic alterations. This leads to interlacing contrapuntal lines that reach a satisfying resolution signaling the entry of Drummond and Lewis at the three-minute mark. She now adds long, serpentine runs to the mix, and for a time utilizes a continuous and varying left-hand bass line that nearly makes Drummond superfluous. When Williams initiates a sustained swinging medium-tempo groove, this allows bass and drums to finally lock gears with the pianist as she continues to explore the many nuances of the elegant Dietz-Schwartz standard. Her lavish block chords set the stage for Drummond's resolutely lyrical solo. Williams' swift, swirling interlude that follows is thrilling, and her deftly elaborate coda gives way to well-deserved, generous applause from the audience at Yoshi's.
Reviewer: Scott Albin