Top five 2014 summer releases to groove on

Carol Banks Weber - AXS Contributor
By: AXS Contributor Jul 24, 2014
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Ah, summertime and the listening is easy. With these 2014 summer releases, it’s easy to kick back with a fruity drink, watch the sun set, and cool down. The artists come from all over, Florida, Europe, the Bay Area, Michigan and Chicago. They range in age, experience, and style — one’s even a practicing psychiatrist, no lie! — but they all have a laser-like focus on the kind of jazz they enjoy playing.

None of them, save for one master harmonica player, is really famous. But they should be, displaying a mastery of the technical and art forms required to hold down the jazz foundation while weaving their own pleasant, signature styles.

You’ll hear Miami smooth jazz (Lindsey Blair Quartet, with Gloria Estefan’s Grammy-winning producer/keyboardist), truncated Beatles and bebop (Hendrik Meurkens and Misha Tsiganov), outrageously foamy piano (Denny Zeitlin, Laura Dubin), and even a special Miles Davis redo in Sketches Of Spain (Orbert Davis).

  • Lindsey Blair Quartet’s ‘A New Dawn’
    The Lindsey Blair Quartet’s debut CD consists of mostly original smooth jazz tunes that are easy to listen to and shimmering with a Latin be
    Photo courtesy of Lindsey Blair Quartet

    The Lindsey Blair Quartet’s debut CD consists of mostly original smooth jazz tunes that are easy to listen to and shimmering with a Latin beat and warm, undulating guitar tones. The quartet consists of South Florida jazz musicians: guitarist/composer Lindsey Blair, keyboardist Clay Ostwald (Grammy-winning producer for Gloria Estefan), bassist Nicky Orta, and percussionist Carlomagno Araya, with special guest Richard Bravo on hand percussion and shaker.

    Street Date: 07/01/2014

  • Hendrik Meurkens & Misha Tsiganov’s ‘Junity: Duo And Quartet’
    Harmonica player Hendrik Meurkens’ latest CD, out July 2, 2014, isn’t even on his official website’s discography yet. But more than a few mu
    Photo courtesy of Hendrik Meurkens and Misha Tsiganov

    Harmonica player Hendrik Meurkens’ latest CD, out July 2, 2014, isn’t even on his official website’s discography yet. But more than a few music critics have listened to the advanced tracks with Russian pianist/arranger Misha Tsiganov — and loved the duo and quartet mix. Meurkens is one of only a very few jazz harmonica players able to create so much with so many different collaborations. Every record is a display of showmanship and colorful interpretation. He also plays lightly with bassist Oleg Osenkov and drummer Willard Dyson. Junity is a combination of “Unity” with “Junto,” Brazilian for “together.” The album is a wonderful cover of bebop (Wes Montgomery, Thelonious Monk, and Sonny Rollins) and Beatles’ hits.

    Street Date: 07/02/2014

  • Denny Zeitlin’s ‘Stairway To The Stars’
    Denny Zeitlin can play the hell out of the piano. He means business. With just his faithful, bare-bones trio — drummer Matt Wilson and bassi
    Photo courtesy of Denny Zeitlin

    Denny Zeitlin can play the hell out of the piano. He means business. With just his faithful, bare-bones trio — drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Buster Williams — Zeitlin reinvigorates straight-ahead jazz with artful, brisk, and, when called for, coyly intimate numbers that allow each musician to dig deep. None of this is surprising for a jazz veteran with over 30 well-received albums to his name, two DownBeat Critics Poll wins, and network appearances. The Chicago-born Zeitlin studied both medicine and music theory. He practices psychiatry in San Francisco when he’s not touring jazz festivals. Stairway To The Stars is a live album of exquisite covers and an original composition by Zeitlin, “Out For A Stroll,” recorded in November 2001 at the Jazz Bakery when the ensemble was just getting started.

    Street Date: 07/08/2014

  • Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble’s ‘Sketches Of Spain [Revisited]’
    Orbert Davis and Miles Davis are not related. But they both play trumpet extremely well. So well that Orbert was asked to play Davis’ part i
    Photo courtesy of Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble’s ‘Sketches Of Spain [Revisited]’

    Orbert Davis and Miles Davis are not related. But they both play trumpet extremely well. So well that Orbert was asked to play Davis’ part in the 1990s for Bill Russo’s Chicago Jazz Ensemble. From that period to now, Orbert Davis has perfected the original Miles Davis/Gil Evans’ 1959-1960 album, Sketches Of Spain. Obviously Orbert Davis and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic sought to reinvent the classic album with touches of Spanish culture, slanted toward a classical and jazz style. The young trumpeter’s big band marching rhythms give the Spanish influences an over-arching, royal formality with a lot of passionate movement in the spaces.

    Street Date: 07/14/2014

  • Laura Dubin’s ‘Introducing The Laura Dubin Trio’
    She’s only 24?! Hard to believe listening to the mature wanderlust of her debut album. Even more amazing, 10 of the songs are all her own ma
    Photo courtesy of Laura Dubin

    She’s only 24?! Hard to believe listening to the mature wanderlust of her debut album. Even more amazing, 10 of the songs are all her own marvelously astute invention. She gets it. A graduate of the Western Michigan University jazz education program, Laura Dubin plays piano like a master, combining lustrous notes and full-bodied textures, with the attention of a zealot. Dubin attacks the keys like a Chick Corea with the melodic juggling act of a Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck. She flows from a jumpy ragtime number to a dreamy ballad without flinching, picking up filaments of gospel, blues, and hard-bop along the way. Her band mates, bassist Sam Weber and drummer Antonio H. Guerrero, accompany her in kind.

    Street Date: 08/05/2014

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