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When Cooler Heads Prevail

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Album Review

Atlanta's Bill Anschell was singer Nnenna Freelon's musical director for four years before moving on to performing and recording on his own. His A Different Note All Together was named one of the ten best jazz albums of the year in 1998 by United Press International. The play list is dominated by the pianist's originals with a smattering of tunes by others. With regard to the original material, Anschell manages to stay devoted to melody with a twist, and on occasion he shatters with percussive intrusions by Woody Williams without blinking an eye as he continues on with the melody line, as on "One More Mile," a very attractive cut. His "If It Isn't One Thing" is a just-under-control swinger as he uses the whole keyboard for dazzling technical display, again with shots coming from the assorted percussion instruments wielded by Williams. This is also a slot for a fine solo by Rodney Jordan, who plays bass on six cuts, while on the other four, the job is taken over by Neal Starkey. Anschell's novel use of percussion continues with "Dear Old Stockholm," as this time, instead of playing off each other, Williams' percussion is integrated more into the performance. Randy Weston's "Little Niles" could have easily been subtitled "variations of a theme," as for more than nine minutes, Anschell explores each crevice of this tune by the Thelonious Monk-influenced pianist and composer. It would be difficult to find an album which inventively merges the percussive ingredients of piano and other members of that instrumental family in such an inventive manner as Anschell achieves. This album is highly recommended. Anschell also produces the widely syndicated radio show Jazz South Radio and has authored two books.

When Cooler Heads Prevail, Bill Anschell
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