Jessica Williams: Straight, No Chaser


Straight, No Chaser



Jazz in the Afternoon (Candid 79750)

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Jessica Williams (piano),

Dave Captein (bass), Mel Brown (drums)


Composed by Thelonious Monk


Recorded: live at Chemekata College, Oregon, Feb. 8, 1998


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

"I seem to be in my Johnny Griffin bag here," Williams wrote of this stunning 13-minute track, "chorus after chorus after chorus, exploring one idea after another." The pianist starts off her solo with frolicking staccato runs after only briefly hinting at the well-known Monk theme, using a resounding left-hand bass figure to provide the momentum until the full trio robustly launches into the melody proper. Williams' marathon solo is a lesson in how not to repeat oneself and still remain fluidly and cogently in control. Captein and Brown provide encouraging and compelling support, and the leader's ongoing interplay with Brown in particular is remarkably intuitive. Williams' inventiveness nearly overwhelms, as she succeeds in reaching successive, diverse peaks of creativity. Brown's ecstatic drum solo, and his following delightful trades with Williams, are prime examples of his polished percussive talent and consummate Max Roach-influenced approach. Williams tosses in an appropriate nod to "Blue Monk" as she draws to a close this wonderful performance by arguably the best trio she's ever led.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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