It is evident from the first lines of the opening track, Bill Evans' "Twelve Tone Tune Two," that this is the bassist's record. Despite the considerable talents and sensitive interplay of pianist Darin Clendenin and drummer Mark Ivester, Anderson's prodigious playing skill and booming, woody tone have an immediate impact on the listener.
The leader also impresses as the composer of six of the 11 tracks, including the lovely and lyrical title tune, a shimmering pastoral evocation of the Pacific Northwest where Anderson lives. "Esperancoso Destino" (Portuguese for "Hopeful Destination") is as bright and hopeful as its title and features a wordless vocal by Greta Matassa. Clendenin states the melody of the beautiful ballad "Say Yes Again," but Anderson contributes the perfect bass harmonies and solos with grace and imagination. The loping, mid-tempo "Nasty Gnomes" is a rhythmic gem, and "Can You Meet Me There?" is another heartfelt ballad. Like the title track, "Two Rivers" again evokes a rural journey. As the composer acknowledges in the liner notes, both tunes were influenced by Pat Metheny.
In addition to the original compositions, the cover tunes are well chosen. Richard Rodgers' "Over and Over Again" is taken at a brisk waltz tempo, aided by Ivester's brush work. Anderson's performance, including the introductory bowed section, on Jack Brownlow's "Jimnopodie" brilliantly echoes Erik Satie's haunting "Gymnopedies" that inspired it. "Poinciana" gets a wonderful trio treatment, with Clendenin stating the simple, but familiar melody as Anderson plays counterpoint and Ivester provides energetic percussion on both drums and congas. Piano and bass combine unison lines for a powerful ending. Appropriately, Bill Evans' ballad "Only Child" makes a nice bookend for the CD, and Anderson renders the lyrics with feeling.
With a strong debut like this, veteran bassist Clipper Anderson deserves more attention as a leader.