Pianist Jessica Williams passed away on March 12, at age 73 and this week on the Vinyl Vault we’ll remember her by enjoying her album “Rivers of Memory.” This was her third album of over 50 that she released as a leader during her career.

“Rivers of Memory” was released in 1980 on the Clean Cuts record label. It was a label that pressed its records on “100% pure virgin vinyl for superior sound quality and longer wear.” Indeed, over 40 years on, the record still sounds great.

Vinyl Vault is sponsored by Vinyl Me, Please

On “Rivers of Memory,” Williams used three different drummers (one at a time) on different tracks and a bass player on a single track. Otherwise, the album is all Williams. But it doesn’t have the sound of a solo or duet album because Williams multi-tracked herself playing piano (acoustic and electric), organ, keyboard bass, synthesizers, vibes, drums, and orchestra bells. The result is a full ensemble sound.

Williams composed all the songs on the album. Some have a solid bebop groove, but others set an ethereal atmosphere that exhibits her range as both a composer and a player.

She acknowledged influences from Miles Davis and John Coltrane to Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus. On “Rivers of Memory,” Chick Corea’s influence is prominent, especially in her synthesizer playing.

Join Geoff Anderson on the Vinyl Vault this Tuesday, March 29, at 8:30 pm as we remember Jessica Williams on KUVO JAZZ.

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