Seattle native Bill Anschell returned to the Emerald City in 2002 after spending 25 years studying, composing, and performing across the country and around the world.
Anschell left Seattle after high school, studying for two years at Oberlin College (Ohio), then transferring to Wesleyan University (Connecticut), where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Music. At Wesleyan, Anschell worked closely with saxophone great Bill Barron. He also studied semi-privately with South Indian mridangam master T Ranganathan, kindling a passion for rhythmic experimentation that has driven Anschell’s music ever since.
After leading the life of a jazz vagabond for several years, Anschell settled in Atlanta in 1989. He was initially drawn there by the opportunity to serve as Jazz Coordinator for the Southern Arts Federation (SAF), the regional arts agency of the South. Firing up SAF’s jazz department virtually from scratch, Anschell launched a host of high-profile programs, published a book on grant writing, and created JazzSouth, a syndicated radio show heard on more than 200 stations around the world. At night he dove headlong into the city’s thriving jazz scene, working as a sideman with various groups and leading his trio.
By 1992, Anschell’s performing itinerary had grown to the point where it demanded his full attention. He left the SAF post, continuing to produce JazzSouth out of his home while focusing on playing and composing. Over the next ten years, Anschell ascended the jazz ranks in Atlanta, leading his trio at major festivals and becoming a first-call accompanist for visiting jazz greats. His trio’s highlights included the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the Montreux Atlanta Festival, and four extensive tours of South America. During the same period, Anschell enjoyed a lengthy association with vocalist Nnenna Freelon, serving as her pianist, arranger, and musical director. Among their many performing highlights were the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland, the Monterey Jazz Festival in California, the Kennedy Center in Washington, and six European tours. Their concerts were broadcast on Radio France, French national television, and NPR’s JazzSet.
Anschell’s piano work and arrangements were featured throughout Freelon’s 1996 Concord release Shaking Free, which was nominated for a Grammy as the year’s best jazz vocal recording.
Anschell’s CDs have earned critical acclaim and widespread exposure, with several making Jazzweek’s national “Top 50” chart for radio airplay. Anschell’s 1998 release, a different note altogether, was selected by United Press International (UPI) as one of the “10 Best” jazz releases of the year. His 2006 CD, More to the Ear than Meets the Eye, was chosen by numerous critics and radio stations across the country for their “10 Best of 2006” lists. His 2009 duo CD of spontaneous improvisations with saxophonist Brent Jensen was described by Cadence as “startlingly beautiful, surprising, and powerful…a transforming experience.” And his 2011 solo piano release, Figments was called “magical” in Thomas Conrad’s JazzTimes review. His 2013 CD, Impulses, took him into new territory, featuring twelve tracks of original electronica. Most recently, his 2017 release, Rumbler, earned four stars in Downbeat, along with rave reviews in JazzTimes and on allaboutjazz.com.
In addition to working in jazz music, Anschell creates and records electronic music pieces from his home studio. In 2019, he composed and recorded the score for “Forgotten Prison,” a podcast series produced by NPR affiliate KNKX. Anschell is also well known as a jazz humorist, writing jazz vignettes and a monthly jazz etiquette column.
His satirical essay, “Careers in Jazz,” is the all-time most-read piece on the leading jazz website allaboutjazz.com with more than 300,000 hits, was prominently featured in a Wall Street Journal story on jazz audiences, and has been posted in translation on websites around the world. In 2014 he was a winner of the inaugural Paul Desmond Award, allaboutjazz.com’s celebration of the funniest jazz artists.
Bill Anschell -- Piano
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Pianist Bill Anschell’s concert credits include eight European tours with vocalist Nnenna Freelon and seven South American tours leading his own trio. He is also a prolific composer; his original pieces have been placed more than 70 times on programs including “The West Wing,” “The Wire,” and “Yellowstone.”
Anschell, a Seattle native, returned to the Emerald city in 2002 after a long residency in Atlanta. He received Golden Ear Awards as the “Northwest Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year” in 2005, 2010 and 2011; his trio was named “Northwest Acoustic Jazz Ensemble of the Year” in 2006; his CD Figments won “Northwest Jazz Recording of the Year” in 2011; and in 2016 he was inducted into the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame.
Anschell is also well known as a jazz humorist, and in 2014 he was a winner of the inaugural
Paul Desmond Award, allaboutjazz.com’s celebration of the funniest jazz artists.
Chris Symer -- Bass
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Bassist Chris Symer moved to Seattle in 2002 from Los Angeles, where he was an in-demand player for live gigs and studio work. Feeling at home playing almost any type of music, he has been busy working in a wide variety of musical situations. He has performed in groups ranging from the unclassifiable Southern California-based band "Headless Household"; to sideman work with Bennie Maupin, Charlie Byrd, Tierney Sutton, Roger Kellaway and Robben Ford; to orchestral playing for film scores.
Symer's consistent sound and reliable sense of direction have helped him not only find work, but to get there on time as well.
Jeff Busch -- Drums
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Jeff Busch is an exuberant drummer/percussionist, vocalist, and composer who has been active on the Seattle jazz, gospel, and Latin jazz scenes for the past 20 years. He is a member of the Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto, whose 2004 recording ‘Canto do Rio’ was nominated for a Latin Jazz Grammy.
In 1997, Jeff spent six months in Brazil and studied with a variety of percussionists including Edmilson Costa Teixeira, Gilo do Pandeiro, and Mestres Memeu and Lazaro from Olodum; he returned to tour as a performer in 1998.
Busch was the recipient of a King County Arts grant for a recording project entitled “Drums and Voices – A Collage of Negro Spirituals,” with gospel singer Patrinell Wright and Master Senegalese drummer Thione Diop. In addition to performing, Jeff continues his work as a dance accompanist, producer, educator, studio musician and visual artist.