A Different Note All Together

Bill Anschell

Blow Hard / Accurate Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Let's put it as plainly as possible: You either like jazz or you don't.

While so many other forms of music can have grey areas, jazz, to me, is pretty much clear cut. Sure, there are some artists whose catalog I've never been really able to get into on a higher level (I've tried Thelonious Monk on a few occasions, but have not been overwhelmed), but all in all, I like jazz for its constant breaking of musical boundaries and the controlled freestyle musings of its musicians. (If you need any proof as to how good jazz is, go rent the wonderul film That Thing You Do!, and watch the scenes in the club or the recording studio a few times.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Listening to pianist Bill Anschell, I'm quickly reminded why I like jazz so much. His latest album, A Different Note All Together, captures some of the finest moments I've heard in this genre of music in a long time.

Anschell and his band - guitarist Scott Sawyer, bassist Neal Starkey, drummer Woody Williams, and (on two tracks) saxophonist Rick Bell - whip through a wonderful selection of originals and cover tunes that demonstrate just how powerful jazz can be. From the complex rhythm pattern of "E.B.'s New System" to the all-out boogie style of "Solar" (listen to this and tell me you don't want to get up and dance!), this band demonstrates not only their skill with their instruments but also how much fun they were having with this music.

In fact, if A Different Note All Together doesn't put a smile on your face, then you're probably dead. The true wittiness of music like "Crabbin'" and "Beignet Boogie" permeates the song, and is a guaranteed mood lifter. Other pieces like "Lullaby For Sam" remind me of groups like the Vince Guiraldi Trio with the use of brushed snare drum and acoustic bass - simply wonderful! Even the "weakest" track, a jazz rendition of The Beatles' "Nowhere Man," takes on a life all its own, to the point where I didn't recognize the song until it was about halfway through the piece.

The best piece on A Different Note All Together is easily Anschell's cover of Miles Davis's "Solar". Now, I've never listened much to Davis or his work, but if Anschell's rendition of this piece (including tasty solos by all four musicians) is any indication of the kind of music that Davis wrote and played, then you can bet I'll be at the store this weekend buying some of his works.

To those people that say they don't like jazz, my guess is at least half of them have never really heard good jazz being played. My challenge: Listen to two cuts off this album, then tell me you don't like jazz! A Different Note All Together is an album I wish I had listened to months ago, so I could have been enjoying it all this time; it's a definite candidate for my best-of-1998 list.

Rating: A-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Blow Hard / Accurate Records, and is used for informational purposes only.