Although they sport one of those old-school jazz combo names that makes them sound like the sort of fusty, hidebound corporation that underwrites political-affairs roundtables on PBS ("This program is made possible by a grant from the Deardorf Peterson Group"), the Deardorf Peterson Group are at least as musically with it as hipper-named acts like the Bad Plus and E.S.T. (aka the Esbjörn Svensson Trio). Though the Deardorf Peterson Group start with a clean, melodic sound highly reminiscent of the West Coast cool artists of the 1950s and '60s (Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond, Chet Baker, Vince Guaraldi, etc.), there's a hip, post-bop exploratory quality to their music that keeps them from ever coming close to mere smooth crossover pop-jazz, full of tasty licks and mellow grooves. The core of the Deardorf Peterson Group, logically enough, is bassist Chuck Deardorf and guitarist and composer Dave Peterson. A native of the Pacific Northwest who studied music at Olympia's bohemian enclave Evergreen State College, Deardorf has maintained an active performance and recording career as a sideman on the West Coast while remaining committed to jazz education, first as an instructor at Western Washington University and later as the administrator of the highly acclaimed music department at Seattle's Cornish College. Peterson graduated with a degree in composition from the music department at Western Washington University in 1977 and in the same year accepted a teaching position at Cornish College, where he has remained while maintaining an active career as a composer and sideman for artists like Cedar Walton, Diane Schuur, and Richard Cole. Though Deardorf and Peterson regularly played together since the late '70s, their debut as co-bandleaders didn't come around until 2004's excellent Portal, on which they were joined by saxophonist Hans Teuber, pianist George Cables, percussionist Michael Spiro, and drummer John Bishop.