Jessica Williams is in typically superb form throughout this live trio set. Her interpretations of Miles Davis’ “Flamenco Sketches” (which is rarely ever revived) and Sonny Rollins’ catchy “Paul’s Pal” are cheerful and she sounds exuberant on a witty version of “Why Do I Love You.” Other performances are more straightforward and, although Thelonious Monk is usually cited as a major influence, she only hints at Monk a little bit on “Lulu’s Back in Town.” Otherwise, Williams sounds quite original, stretching herself on four of her originals and enjoying the support of bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Victor Lewis. This is a fun outing by a great pianist.
Born: March 17, 1948 in Baltimore, MD
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…