|REVIEWS / ARTICLES|
CADENCE MAGAZINE: Transparence
By Michael Steinman
Bassist Deardorf’s Transparence (5) also has its own integrity—rooted in the recent Jazz past without being overtly nostalgic or imitative. A few of the selections are too “electric” for my taste, but my taste is admittedly narrow. The acoustic tracks—featuring pianist Mays, altoist Teuber, and a variety of guitarists—are simply lovely. Deardorf is not afraid of beauty; playing a ballad with sincerity and gentleness is in his very nature; he is comfortable at slow and medium tempos (letting his notes ring) and he knows how to swing, as a soloist or as a generous member of a small group. “Collage,” “Alone Together,” “Bruzette,” “Moon and Sand,” “Sweet Lorraine,” and “The Peacocks” show him to be a musician of deep feeling. In a world full of hear-it-once-and-give-it-away compact discs, this one is a true keeper.
EARSHOT JAZZ PROFILE: Chuck Deardorf
By Steve Griggs
Chuck Deardorf perches on a stool at the back of the stage, the best view of the audience. His vantage point is ideal for a bass player’s role as harmonic backbone and center of gravity for the groove. The club’s wooden stage amplifes low notes. Where inexperienced bassists would produce unfocused booms, Deardorf ’s tone is even and clear over the entire neck of his German acoustic bass, built in the late 1800s. His fingers crawl over the strings like a spider. Quick solo phrases end on a brief sustained note with a touch of vibrato. His sound is refined, precise, fluid – reminiscent of ECM recordings from the late 1970s. READ MORE >
YOUR INSTRUMENT CHOOSES YOU:
An Interview with Chuck Deardorf
…I have a theory that instruments choose you, you think you choose them, but they kind of call your name. I was a trombone player, and I was playing in big bands, and you know as horn players, especially in big bands, you play a little bit and then you just sit there for a while, and then you play some more and then you sit. And I found myself always listening to the bass player, because they get to play the whole time, and I thought, wow they sound like they’re having a lot more fun then I am. 'Cause they’re just in the music, and the bass just shapes the music so much. You have a lot of responsibility and freedom to really determine where the music goes. And so the bass just started calling my name and I responded. READ MORE >
In Seattle, Wash., it is Chuck Deardorf. He is known for making other people sound good, not leading his own projects. But Transparence argues that he is also a strong and smart bandleader. Deardorf blends various configurations of the 14 musicians and combines sessions recorded in several places over three years into a coherent album statement with continuity of tone. It is no mean trick. His own voice is the primary unifying factor. He is a quick, clear rhythm-section player and an articulate, interesting soloist on all of his instruments: acoustic, Toucan and Fender fretless basses and acoustic bass guitar.
The roster of 14 includes strong players from Seattle (alto saxophonist Hans Teuber, pianist Jovino Santos Nero, tenor saxophonist Richard Cole) and elsewhere (pianist Bill Mays, guitarists Bruce Forman and Rick Peckham). Most of the ensembles are duos, trios or quartets, and there is a string bias. (Four different guitarists interact with Deardorf's basses.) On "Alone Together," Forman's electric guitar and Deardorf's acoustic bass create resonant blends and suggestive contrasts. The same instrumental combination, with Rick Peckham on guitar, portrays Jobim's gentle "Zingaro" as something edgy and twangy.
Deardorf makes inspired song choices like "The Peacocks." The version here is one of the permanent recordings of Jimmy Rowles' atmospheric masterpiece. Deardorf and Mays and Teuber allow the song to keep its secrets. Together and apart, they just beautifully float with it.
Jazz Society of Oregon
"Rhythm Tune" showcases drummer John Bishop's complex and engaging percussion work; and I must admit it took a couple of spins of the disc to appreciate his stuff. He rides with the flow and doesn't call attention to himself, with a busy style that weaves all manner of textures behind the soundscape. The more I listen to other Origin discs on which he plays (Brent Jensen/Rob Walker Quintet with New Stories), the more apparent the importance his contribution to the group sound becomes.
With the exception of "Mr. Schmeil," a two-minute bass solo by Deardorf, and the closer, Wayne Shorter's "Ana Maria," the tunes are all Dave Peterson originals, full of sharp gleaming edges and shining facets and neat grooves, catchy, stick-in-the-head melodies, and a very accessible sound that reveals deeper complexities on multiple listens. It's a great group sound that rewards separate spins just to listen to each member's individual contribution.
Portal, then, seems like the unpretentious essence of the city's jazz community. Straight-ahead jazz brought from the heart by professional craftsmen.
While Deardorf has the presence of a band leader on stage, Portal's program is largely from the pen of Peterson. Seven of the ten tracks are Dave Peterson compositions. A Deardorf improvisation and a pair of standards cover the set. Peterson's own work is rooted in the hard-bop of the sixties and the sweeping melodicism of '80s Pat Metheny.
Pianist George Cables, who made the April Jazz Alley gig (and was featured in a small solo set), is on the record as well, though hardly featured. Cables falls into the spirit of collaboration easily, tastefully supporting the quartet and showing a sensitivity of understanding that betrays his years of playing with Deardorf and Peterson at Port Townsend.
Well, half-under, anyway. Ever the support player, Deardorf shares leadership with guitarist Dave Peterson on his fine debut disc, Portal (Origin), and gives cover credit to his guest, New York pianist George Cables, too. The Deardorf/Peterson Quartet is rounded out by drummer John Bishop and saxophonist Hans Teuber.
The group (sans Cables) performs at 5:30 p.m. Thursday as part of the pleasant (and tasty) outdoor Barbecue Jazz Night series at Interbay Golf Course, 2501 15th Ave. W., Seattle (free; 206-285-2200).
"We had all these tunes Dave and I played together over the years, and we thought it was high time to get them recorded," Deardorf explained. "I'd thought about doing it for years, but the change came when I saw John Bishop's record company (Origin) take off."
Bishop started Origin in 1997 to design and distribute self-produced albums by regional and other artists.
Deardorf and Peterson both teach at Cornish College and came up in Seattle in the late '70s and early '80s, back when clubs like Parnell's and the old Jazz Alley in the University District had work for local sidemen.
"That was like graduate school," recalled Deardorf. "I got to work with Kenny Barron, Kenny Burrell, Joe Williams, Kirk Lightsey, James Williams. It was the right place at the right time. When jazz came back enough that the New York people were able to tour with their own groups, it ended."
Originally from Minnesota, Deardorf had been studying music at The Evergreen State College (though he taught himself bass). Everett-bred Peterson was a recent graduate from Western Washington University. They hit it off immediately.
"I liked his sound," recalled the bassist, whose influences include Ray Brown, Dave Holland, Ron Carter and Miroslav Vitous. "His ideas were always fresh, toward early Pat Metheny, John Abercrombie, that ECM school, but never just that pastel stuff, always with an undercurrent of blues, which is where I like to live."
The mix of visionary mist and blue-collar grit Deardorf describes is distinctively Northwest and was defined, in part, by his generation. "Portal" offers a lovely voyage through that territory, underscored metaphorically by the cover images — the dreamy grand piazza of Siena, Italy, on the front, and a plain doorway in working class Alfama, the old quarter of Lisbon, Portugal, on the back.
"It's a kind of portal into the music world," said the bassist, who turned 50 when the album came out in April, "a personal portal, as well," he added. "That's a good theme."
The disc highlights the sumptuous compositions of Peterson, including the title track, a sinuous line graced with the guitarist's warm glow. "That's the Deal," a vamping blues, features Cables on Fender Rhodes (keyboard). "Rhythm Tune," a catchy line based on the harmony of George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm," gives saxophonist Teuber a nice opening to blow. "Crazy Heart" and "Song For Lee," the latter written for Peterson's wife, are gorgeous ballads. A solo track showcases Deardorf's bright ideas, supple phrasing, tough technique and springy sound.
"Portal" is getting airplay around the country, particularly on local jazz stations, and has received some nice reviews.
"Nobody's bought any Lamborghinis yet," cracked the bassist, "but it seems to be doing OK."
|CDS · CURRENT PROJECTS · TEACHING · REVIEWS / ARTICLES ·
GALLERY · SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY · PERFORMANCE CREDITS · PRESS KIT · CONTACT / LINKS
|©2011 Chuck Deardorf