Bill Anschell – piano, Bass – Jeff Johnson & John Bishop-drums on 2,3,6,7,9,11.
Doug Miller – bass & Jose Martinez – drums on 1,4,5,8,10
Richard Cole – ten, sop sax. Thomas Marriot – trpt, flugel.
1 Night & Day 2 Bent 3 Crazy He Calls Me
4 Emily 5 As The Crow Flies 6 Humble Origins
7 Alone Together 8 I’ll Take Romance
9 Morning Fog 10 Faster than the Speed of Mildew
11 At the End of the Day
More To The Ear Than Meets The Eye
This Origin Records 2006 release starts with deconstructing the melody Night & Day and has wonderful rhythms (!!) floating over the bar lines. Monkisms, use of space, ˝ time feel, and the chordal voicings are all very musical. The accompaniment of Miller and Martinez is top shelf here (as is everyone on this CD).
Then comes an original tune more rhythmic in it’s melody than say a more typical linear approach as in an older song-style standard – “Bent” with muted trumpet doubling the piano melody at the beginning followed by a very cool trumpet solo that melts into a section of unison lines with the piano. Here it breaks down into a piano solo, again with great sensitive accompaniment of bass & drums and even though it’s not the same bassist and drummer as track 1, the continuity of the CD as a whole is there.
Crazy He Calls Me is a faster tempo and brings to mind Keith Jarrett or Bill Evans in that Bill plays long lines of irregular length over the bar lines and is just spectacular. Then there’s the metric modulation at the end where the tunes dissipates in rhythmic fashion until it slows to a stop. Bill has a beautiful touch on the piano on Emily suggesting plenty of classical training along with a melodic bass solo also with a beautiful tone.
As The Crow Flies, based on a traditional South Indian rhythmic composition, is another original and is somewhat more adventuresome modally with expressive piano and sax solos that recalls Chick’s Return To Forever’s ensemble rhythmic heads and unison lines to mind.
Humble Origins is, in a word, pretty. Marriott’s flugelhorn matches the mood of the piece just right. Alone Together is similar to Crazy He Calls Me in it’s approach.
Morning Fog has really unusual harmonic progressions. More beautiful playing too.
Faster than the Speed of Mildew has a great melody and reminds me of being in the style of some of the tunes that the great Michael Brecker, who unfortunately I heard just passed away, would have had on some of his recordings.
I can’t help feeling that this pianist and his fellow musicians deserve much wider recognition for what is just great playing. Because of what I feel is the honesty (among other things) of this recording, this is in my TOP pick of all the CD’s I heard in 2006...really. I know my next recording will be more musical because of this influence. It’s funny that Bill mentions in the ‘thanks to’ section of the liner notes that he thanks “radio programmers - for auditioning this even though I haven’t paid someone to solicit you. Industry publications – for reviewing this even though I didn’t buy an ad. And you, listener – for buying this even though I don’t look like Britney Spears (see CD title…)”.
In a review this will smack of social commentary (just as Bill mentioned in his notes regarding his comments above) …his quotes are humorous, and humor is a good quality to have as a jazz improviser. This is real music with great depth of feeling, interesting compositions, beautiful performance and wonderful musicality. Forget the shallowness of the trappings in pop music culture. Here is real lasting accomplishment in art, in life. We should all be so lucky to create something of this quality. I’m going to have to get his other recordings and will list them here so you might want to:
Rhythm Changes (Consolidated Artists prod.)
A Different Note All Together (Accurate)
When Cooler heads prevail (Summit)
Reviewed by John Nyerges 1-16-07