Here's what I'd do: Get your family members, relatives, and friends to write up and send you their lists of What I Want for the Holidays.Tear the lists up; delete the text messages or emails; buy each person one of these new or recent Northwest jazz albums instead.
In this era of fiscal restraint, one CD per person is gift enough. Let's get real.
Fortunately outstanding disks abound this year, thanks to the combined talents of some of the region's best.Bassist Doug Miller's Regeneration(Origin Records) has Jay Thomas on trumpet and flugelhorn, tenor and soprano saxes, and flute; Dave Peterson on guitar and keyboards; and Phil Parisot on drums on four of the tracks. Thomas has a particularly fine outing, lyrical and nuanced on each of his several instru-ments, reconfirming his reputation as quite the multi-instrumentalist on the Seattle scene.
By limiting drums to four cuts, Miller underscores his desire for a light foot-print for his compositions and a couple of covers, some of which bounce or jaunt, but several of which are contemplative and moody.
Tying the project together is Miller's own sure-handed bass playing. Going drummerless on several tracks makes more room for him, and he ﬁlls it ably. He renders "Bye Bye Blackbird" as an appealing solo.
That track enhances the album's overall emphasis on variety within an overarching consistency of sound. Over the course of the disc, Miller changes things up, playing pizzicato or bowing, and adding some arresting eﬀ ects during his two-part "Avenue C," in which Peterson and Th omas gamely join.
"Ballad for Don and Midge" is a touching, tender piece in homage to two of the region's all-time most-lik-able and encouraging jazz personalities, both of whom are, now, sadly, gone (although Midge Lanphere was still among us when this recording was made in 2005 and 2006). But Miller registers and expresses the sadness, rather than surrenders to it. By the track's end he registers, too, the pleasure of having known them.
And then he ﬁ nishes things up on a short, upbeat, up-tempo number, "Lighten Up," as if to break the spell of what would make for a most appealing hour-long interlude at the end of, say, a long day of family, holiday-time obligation.
For its variety of feel, pacing, and mood, all within an impressively sustained envelope of feel and interest, Regeneration is a ﬁne, refreshing recording.