Deardorf's prowess is hardly unknown outside Seattle, even though he rarely leaves the Pacific Northwest. For a quarter-century or more he has been a mainstay of the Seattle scene and a primary on-call bassist for dozens of visiting musicians including Chet Baker, Zoot Sims, George Cables, Art Farmer, Jimmy Rowles and Kenny Burrell. In Transparence, he is out front in a collection that underlines his musicianship, versatility and leadership. The settings encompass a variety of moods and genres?mainstream bop, Brazilian impressionism, standard ballads, a flirtation with freebop, a bow toward Deardorf's rock beginnings. But it is far from a hodgepodge. Despite changing combinations of players from track to track, the strength of Deardorf's overarching musical personality provides consistency.
The wholeness is enhanced by his choice of sidemen, not only Seattle and Portland stalwarts like saxophonists Hans Teuber and Richard Cole, drummers Mark Ivester and Gary Hobbs, and pianist Jovino Santos Neto, but also visiting firemen, pianist Bill Mays and guitarist Bruce Forman. Among the highlights: Deardorf's "Collage" with Teuber, Mays and Hobbs; duets with Mays on Alec Wilder's "Moon and Sand" and Forman on "Sweet Lorraine;" the atmospherics Deardorf generates on electric bass in Lennon and McCartney's "Dear Prudence" and on acoustic bass guitar with Santos Neto on "De Mansinho." Deardorf is the melody voice in a memorable colloquy with Mays' piano and Teuber's tenor sax on Rowles' "The Peacocks." This is an album of substance.