All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

345

Bill Anschell: Figments

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
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 night, after-the paying-gig, no-adult-supervision frame of mind. The results, even for those familiar with Anschell's work, are a wonderful surprise.

Anschell's ability to craft a cohesive ensemble sound can sometimes overshadow his skill, creativity and spontaneity as a pianist. There's no chance of that happening on Figments, as he sits down alone on an odd set of Great American Songbook classics, mixed with a bunch of unlikely tunes, covered in an idiosyncratic way. Anschell stretches and bends the familiar melodies to near-breaking point, in turns ruminative, playful, dark, and sparkling.

Anschell sounds very much as if he's enjoying the freedom of exploring Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant"—playing, then brooding, taking unexpected turns around the famous eatery, romping and then sauntering, as he maintains the thread of the melody. Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" has a things-that-go-bump-and-plunk-in-the-night sound ("Late last night I heard the screen door slam.."), as Anschell uses a prepared piano to alter the sound through odd items placed inside the box: a rubber mouse pad, a necklace with plastic beads, a book, a tape measure...all in an approach that must drive his piano tuner crazy, but lends a unique, clunky-but-modern sound to the normal hammer-on-strings.

Rodgers and Hart's always lovely "It Never Entered My Mind" gets a makeover, with a brooding mood and some subtle dissonance, while Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose" gets twisted around, as Anschell frolics from the familiar into unexplored possibilities of the tune.

Anschell visits the 1960s with his pop music choices, with The Beatles' "Across the Universe" and "Ask Me Why," The Eagles' "Desperado," and Blood, Sweat and Tears' "Spinning Wheel," all filtered through Anschell's sonic funhouse mirror, while the standard "Willow Weep for Me" and "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" inject some energy and sass to the set.

Figments: Bill Anschell alone and letting go, taking a risk that pays off nicely.

Track Listing: My Heart Belongs to Daddy; All My Tomorrows; Alice's Restaurant; Big Yellow Taxi; It Never Entered My Mind; Willow Weep for Me; Spinning Wheel; Across the Universe; Honeysuckle Rose; Desperado; I'm Getting Sentimental Over You; Ask Me Why.

Personnel: Bill Anschell: piano, prepared piano (4).

Title: Figments | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Origin Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

No You Go

No You Go

Bill Anschell
Rumbler

XoBoX

XoBoX

Bill Anschell
Calculated Gestures

The People Versus Miss Jones

The People Versus Miss Jones

Bill Anschell
We Couldn't Agree More

As The Crow Flies

As The Crow Flies

Bill Anschell
More to the Ear Than Meets the...

CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Just For Fun
Bill Anschell's Notes from the Lobby
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Shifting Standards

Shifting Standards

Origin Records
2018

buy
Rumbler

Rumbler

Origin Records
2017

buy
Rumbler

Rumbler

Origin Records
2016

buy
Blueprints

Blueprints

Origin Records
2012

buy
Figments

Figments

Origin Records
2011

buy
We Couldn't Agree More

We Couldn't Agree More

Origin Records
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller CD/LP/Track Review
Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Change In The Air CD/LP/Track Review
Change In The Air
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Vera CD/LP/Track Review
Vera
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 18, 2018
Read In Motion CD/LP/Track Review
In Motion
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Marshian Time Slip CD/LP/Track Review
Marshian Time Slip
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Four On The Road CD/LP/Track Review
Four On The Road
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 17, 2018
Read "Life Of" CD/LP/Track Review Life Of
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 27, 2018
Read "Zero" CD/LP/Track Review Zero
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 16, 2018
Read "Der Verboten" CD/LP/Track Review Der Verboten
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 7, 2017
Read "A Woman's Journey" CD/LP/Track Review A Woman's Journey
by Jerome Wilson
Published: January 28, 2018
Read "Black Flower" CD/LP/Track Review Black Flower
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 3, 2018
Read "Sketches of American Music" CD/LP/Track Review Sketches of American Music
by Doug Collette
Published: June 23, 2018