1. Finally Free
2. Billy’s Theme No. 1
3. The Soul Doctor
4. Blues for BT
5. Taylor’s Triumph
6. Spontaneous Composition and Improvisation
7. Spontaneous Composition and Improvisation
8. Billy’s Theme No. 2
Jessica Williams – Piano
Taylor is best known – at least in Britain
– for his trio’s recording of his composition
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free,
which has been popularized as the signature
tune for BBC Television’s long-running "Film"
programme. But, of course, Billy Taylor has
done much more than that, as Jessica Williams’s
sleeve-note reminds us: playing with the likes
of Ben Webster, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie
Parker; acting as house pianist at Birdland
and as musical director and presenter for
numerous radio and TV shows; and constantly
involved in jazz education.
affection for Billy finds expression in this
tribute album, recorded at Jessica’s home
studio. She says she wanted to capture the
feel of the concert hall, and the recording
achieves a wonderfully sonorous ambience.
She also says "I took the ‘less is more’
approach and prefer it to the ‘flying fingers’
style so popular in this competitive age".
Jessica is quite capable of playing a hundred
notes per second but she here adopts an unshowy
approach which is nevertheless eloquent.
I saw Jessica in concert a few years ago,
it seemed as if the piano was an instrument
designed expressly for her, as she had such
a rapport with it (and she appears particularly
fond of the tinkling high notes). Her playing
has echoes of Erroll Garner, Gershwin, Debussy
and many other pianists, but her style is
entirely her own. She composes instantaneously
at the piano, producing rhapsodic melodies
which provide worthy tributes to Billy Taylor.
The word is often misused, but this is a truly