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January/February 2007

Bill Anschell
More to the Ear Than Meets the Eye
Origin Records

More to the Ear Than Meets the Eye is a consistently rewarding piano-trio album. Its freshness and creative strength is different on every track. There are two guests, saxophonist Richard Cole (three tunes) and trumpeter/flugelhornist Thomas Marriott (two). The horns appear only on Anschell originals, whose melodies linger in the mind. “Humble Origins” could be a jazz standard, a stark frame erected on a haunting, dark piano ostinato and an elemental thematic concept like a private aspiration, a fragile hope (traced in pure, poignant lines by Marriott).

Anschell’s five standards with the trio are well chosen and imaginatively twisted. “Alone Together” is great fun as a burner. “Crazy He Calls Me” is beautifully fragmentary, kept coherent by bassist Jeff Johnson. “Emily” is one of the most affecting and least wistful versions of Johnny Mandel’s song ever recorded, all hard edges and angles.

Originally published in January/February 2007
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