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October 2005

Jessica Williams
Live at Yoshi's Volume 2
MaxJazz

Jessica Williams coaxes such a luscious sound from her instrument on Live at Yoshi's, Vol. 2 that you can happily wallow in her tone alone. With an acute sensitivity to melody aligned to that magnificent touch, her ballads become akin to personal gifts to her listeners. It takes guts to lead off an album with an eight-minute "Flamenco Sketches"-with Williams in perfect control of mood and dynamics, the classic becomes an enchanting prelude. But the perennially underrated pianist commands at all tempos, leavening formidable technique with a playful-make that joyous-rhythmic sense: "Why Do I Love You" and "Paul's Pal" find room for trademark displays of agile and witty two-handed independence.

As on the equally impressive Vol. 1, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Victor Lewis furnish flawless accompaniment. Williams, an unclassifiable eclectic who can play rings around a good many of the more in-the-public-zone pianists out there, deserves considerably more attention. (If she were given a dollar for every time she's probably heard that in her career....)

Originally published in October 2005
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