Bill Anschell / Brent Jensen: We Couldn't Agree More (2009)
By definition, the classical or jazz duo is the most intimate performance format. Intimacy requires two parties sharing with a base empathy. An example is Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway's A Duet of One (2008, IPO), where the two principles shared a great love for the mainstream and its sensitive presentation.
Enter west coasters, pianist Bill Anschell and soprano saxophonist Brent Jensen, with We Couldn't Agree More. This instrument combination instantly recalls the Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron recordings of the late 1980s and early '90s. However, Anschell and Jensen's respective visions are woven into a 21st Century digital sheen that accentuates the sharp corners of their performance.
Kicking off the recital of two originals and nine standards is a Bach-on-Ecstasy "I'm Old Fashioned." Anschell and Jensen did a Kind Of Blue (Columbia, 1959), entering the studio with a list of songs and little else, just a brief outline. That type of spontaneity gives rise to such sideways performances as "I'm Old Fashioned" and later, "You and the Night and the Music," where Anschell tears it up with an exposition of 100 years of jazz piano.
The two takes of Miles Davis' "Solar" are a nice introduction to both conceptions of improvisation and arrangement, illustrating the wealth of direction any composition can go in jazz. Thelonious Monk's "Ask Me Now" definitely summons the spirits of Lacy and Waldron. Jensen, who is best known for his alto saxophone work, divines a beautifully dry tone from the soprano, anointing this Monk tune with an arid climate and crepuscular aire.
The jazz duet is alive and well with Anschell and Jensen. This is a most pleasant example of the power of jazz when played in close places.
Track Listing: I'm Old Fashioned; Solar; The People Versus Miss Jones; You the Night and the Music; What is This Thing Called Love?; You Aren't All That; Ask Me Now; Beautiful Love; Just Friends; Solar (alternate take); On the Sunny Side of the Street.
Personnel: Bill Anschell: piano; Brent Jensen: soprano saxophone.