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Jazz Jam Sessions: A First-Timer's Guide

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Ready to check out your first jam session? There's much more to jazz music--and to the “session" in particular--than meets the eye. This primer will help you better appreciate the intense psychodrama being played out on stage. Special “Insider's Hints" ("IH“) highlighted throughout the text will help you make the most of your maiden voyage. IH: Although your food and drink dollars are the lifeblood of the jazz economy, remember that to the musicians, you're irrelevant. Don't make requests. Don't start dancing. And don't try to sing along. The last thing the session needs is another ego. Things ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Anschell: Figments

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Bill Anschell is a lot of things. He is house pianist and mainstay at Origin Arts, showing up on a wide range of projects. He also contributes to this publication, writing with grace on craft of jazz. But, late at night, he is a musical James Joyce, spinning musical thread off the top of his head. And so he does on Figments. Recorded over a series of late nights, after practicing his chosen craft, Anschell clears his mind and...begins to fool around, but Anschell's “fooling around" amounts to a postmodern study of American music. When recording “What's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Anschell: Figments

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Pianist Bill Anschell normally involves himself in projects that shine with a high polish, recordings like the Wellstone Conspiracy's collaborative Motives (Origin, 2010) and his own More to the Ear than Meets the Eye (Origin, 2006), or in the sideman slot on the marvelous Reunion, led by saxophonists Pete Christlieb and Hadley Caliman. In addition, Anschell served as Nnenna Freelon's pianist/arranger/musical director for a number of years, where a sheen on the vocalist's backdrop was the name of the game. Anschell goes with a very different approach on Figments, exploring the world of solo piano, in a late ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Anschell/Brett Jensen: We Couldn't Agree More

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We Couldn't Agree More is a great example of what happens when two like-minded musicians gather for an impromptu session, playing through a list of well-worn standards. Pianist Bill Anschell and soprano saxophonist Brent Jensen deliver a relaxed, humorously inventive duo recording that happily swings from beginning to end. Recorded in Boise, Idaho, during a break from a tour of the state (Jensen is an Assistant Professor of Music at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls), the two long time collaborators take a bare bones, unedited approach with successful results. Anschell opens the record ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Anschell / Brent Jensen: We Couldn't Agree More

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Anschell: More to the Ear Than Meets the Eye

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Pianist Bill Anschell has carved out a fairly high profile for himself as an accompanist and arranger, most recently on vocalist Jeff Baker's vibrant Monologue (OA2 Records, 2005), and previously with his stint touring and recording as musical director for Nnenna Freelon from 1992-96. With More to the Ear Than Meets the Eye, Anschell steps out as leader on a set that showcases his penchant for forthright lyrical beauty and spontaneous chance-taking that always hits the mark.The set, a mix of standards and six originals, is performed with two separate rhythm teams: bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John ...

Notes from the Lobby

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The light is unsettling; too bright, by far, for the dark business at hand. My fingers work tirelessly. Visible beneath them, a workspace painful to the glance; brilliant, aching white. Should I look away, bury my gaze instead in the teeming masses before me? They transact ceaselessly, without apology. Harshly lit, the greedy faces are easily identified, yet there is mystery about them.Shouldn't it be nighttime? Shouldn't we be in a darkened restaurant, or a seamy, ill-lit bar? Underground, hidden, dank. Then, would this dirty work--theirs and mine--begin, somehow, to make sense?There is never silence. Their ...

Jazz Math

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If x is the number of chord changes in a tune, and y is the tempo at which it is played, then xy = factor by which a guitarist will turn down his amp. # (notes/measure played by a saxophonist on a ballad) is proportional to # (drinks he has consumed). 4 + 4.125 + 4 + 3.875 + 4 + (4 + or--.667) + 4 + (x, where x is unknown) = 1 chorus trading with drummer. (2 + 5 + 1) (# of freshman college jazz students, internationally) = annual income of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW
CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Anschell: When Cooler Heads Prevail

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Splitting his session between originals and familiar gems, pianist Bill Anschell brings his third recording as leader to a wider audience. As Nnenna Freelon's musical director in the '90s, he gained experience with the kind of songs that reach out and touch someone. Anschell's web site contains plenty of biographical information. The pianist's arrangement, here, of 'Little Niles' smokes with passion and soulful emotions. Woody Williams provides an array of percussion timbres that leave lasting impressions. The trio provides an emotional session. And yet, there's a coolness to its approach that pleases. Anschell's 'No Hurry' amplifies the cool aspects of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Anschell: When Cooler Heads Prevail

Read "When Cooler Heads Prevail" reviewed by

Splitting his session between originals and familiar gems, pianist Bill Anschell brings his third recording as leader to a wider audience. As Nnenna Freelon's musical director in the '90s, he gained experience with the kind of songs that reach out and touch someone. Anschell's web site contains plenty of biographical information. The pianist's arrangement, here, of 'Little Niles' smokes with passion and soulful emotions. Woody Williams provides an array of percussion timbres that leave lasting impressions. The trio provides an emotional session. And yet, there's a coolness to its approach that pleases. Anschell's 'No Hurry' amplifies the cool aspects of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Miles Osland / Bill Anschell Trio: An Old Speckled Hen at Snapes Malting

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As Miles Osland says in the liner notes, Old Speckled Hen represents his “coming out” as a tenor saxophonist (he’s usually heard on alto, at least on recordings). As is the case on alto, he prefers doing things his way, assuming a stance that often is less than conventional if not unsparingly radical. While he never completely abandons customary melodies or rhythms, Osland stretches the boundaries in ways that might leave the more conservative listener unmoved. His “English Suite,” for example, incorporates bitonal harmonies, free improvisation and straight swing in a three–part work whose opening theme is based on composer ...



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