Another name that shows up quite regularly on the Origin/OA2 rosters is Bil Anschell, a pianist surely worthy of wider exposure. As both leader and sideman he has racked up an impressive cache of credentials, playing in varied configurations from duets to larger settings, but 'Figments' is his debut in a solo piano setting. Captured on the most basic studio equipment at is home somewhere in the greater Seattle area, these unpretentious and spontaneous readings will delight his followers and all lovers of the eighty-eight keys. For this after-hours project the pianist picked out a batch of favored standards and some Pop?Rock items from hit parades past. The playlist can easily be halved by these two genres.
The well-established titles include a ruminative "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," a non-bluesy "Willow Weep for Me" that is almost fugue-like, an Ellington classic taken in a nutty stride that recalls Jaki Byard, a dreamlike "All My Tomorrows," and a Fats Waller staple that at one point hints at Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer." In the Pop department there's an Arlo Guthrie hit (named after a location) that's as wiggy and swinging as the patrons that frequented the joint, two fairly abstract Beatles tunes, a bouncy "Spinning Wheel," a prepared piano take of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," and the shortest number, "Desperado" whose gospel feel I wish he had more deeply developed. A small nit to pick. Unless one is extremely familiar with these selections, be prepared to listen closely. Anschell gives them his own personal treatment, what used to be affectionately called "derangements" in the Phil Woods band. Solo instrument endeavors are at best a risky business. Pick up this package and hear how it is done with these figments from Bill Anschell's rich musical imagination.