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MUSIC REVIEW

Doug Miller

Regeneration

Doug Miller, longtime point man for bass on the Origin label, takes his first turn as leader for an album with Regeneration, enlisting multi-instrumentalist Dave Peterson, horn player extraordinaire Jay "Bird" Thomas, and drummer Phil Parisot for the effort. With the exception of "Invitation" and "Bye Bye Blackbird," all pieces are Miller originals, and display a healthy range of styles all executed perfectly by the band. The album opens with some straightforward quartet jamming. Following that though, Parisot's drums make their exit for a bit and the trio switches to a bossa nova, anchored by Peterson's guitar, that gives Thomas a couple of lengthy interludes on flute and Miller time for an extended solo on bowed bass that's far more lyrical than one might normally expect. In "Ice Cave," Peterson gets to show off his piano skills in a fairly straightforward setting, anchored by Miller and the return of Parisot, and Miller introduces "Blues for Junior" with a strong thumping bassline that leads into a sultry sax groove by Thomas. "Avenue C" is split between an exploratory jungle sound-effect portion (with Miller's bass transformed into a berimbau of sorts) and a still-exploratory but less sound-effect-driven portion. Thomas' sax leads a restrained "Invitation" just before the restraints are removed for a jumping run in "No Jazz." Bye Bye Blackbird is played entirely on the bass, a treat that's fairly rare for any song. A breathy ballad for Don Lanphere is led by Thomas, again on sax, and the album closes on "Lighten Up," a piece that could just as well come from Tadd Dameron's pen. Overall, a fairly exciting album. Even when bassists stand as bandleaders, their sounds are usually restricted to rhythmic accompaniment and the occasional solo (with the exception of a select few -- Pastorius, Stanley Clarke). Miller has pulled the instrument out in front, even in its acoustic form, and kept up with an exceptional band for the duration.

 

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