It's clear that the Pacific Northwest - and Seattle in particular - have become a serious and thriving jazz center.
Pianist Bill Anschell makes his home in that area. This CD features his basic trio - piano, bass and drums - on nine of the 11 tracks; he adds a sax on three cuts, and a trumpet on two others. Five of the tunes are familiar standards, while the other six are Anschell originals.
The standards may be familiar, but the arrangements are delightfully new. "Night and Day," "Crazy He Calls Me" and "Alone Together" are done up-tempo, rather then as ballads; they swing nicely, thanks to the quality of the musicians.
Two different bassists (Jeff Johnson and Doug Miller) and drummers (John Bishop and Jose Martinez) are used in various permutations, and all four are excellent. Miller's bass work on "Emily" is particularly tasty.
Anschell is a pianist par excellence: His phrasing is lyrical, his finger speed exceptional. His interpretation of "I'll Take Romance" roams through various meters and tempos, and really grabs your attention; you can't wait to hear what comes next.
Richard Cole's tenor and soprano sax are featured on three of the Anschell originals, while Thomas Marriott's trumpet and flugelhorn are used on two others. Both artists' contributions are stylish.
This group is a real pleasure. It swings warmly, without ever being frantic.