Jessica Williams: Kristen





Nothin' but the Truth (Black Hawk 51301)

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Jessica Williams (piano),

John Wiitala (bass), Bud Spangler (drums)


Composed by Jessica Williams


Recorded: Hayward, CA, Feb. 26, 1986


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

The Williams trio with Witala and Spangler had been playing together for about six years when the Nothin' but the Truth album was recorded. For the session, Williams introduced one of her loveliest compositions, "Kristen," which she had written for artist Kristen Wetterhahn while she was the house pianist at the Keysone Korner in San Francisco in the late '70's. The trio give the tune a treatment that brings out all of its inherent grace and beauty.

The melody of "Kristen" is an ethereal wonder that is heightened by Williams' ringing tone, trilling ornamentations, and warmth of expression, as well as by the intuitive support of Wiitala and Spangler. The pianist's solo is sweepingly lyrical, ranging from resonant chords—both gentle and powerful—to feverish extended lines. Think Hampton Hawes meets Bill Evans. Her return to the poignant theme after this variegated and inspired statement offers a pleasing contrast, but her out-chorus contains still more surging, technically masterful passages. Still relatively unknown except on the West Coast at the time of this performance, Williams' inimitable style was already pretty much fully-formed.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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