Despite all the gloom and doomsayers, as long as there are creative young talents like pianist Laura Dubin keeping the jazz flame going, there is hope for the future. While it may be true that massive popular appeal might not be in the cards, there will always be an audience for creative music played with skill and passion, an audience, perhaps few, but certainly fit (to improvise on John Milton). And for that audience, Introducing The Laura Dubin Trio, the 24-year-old pianist’s self-produced debut, is an introduction not to be missed.
The album’s 10 original compositions build on the ideas and traditions of jazz giants of the past to create a dynamic aesthetic that honors their contributions by taking what they did and running with it. Dubin, showing the maturity of a true artist, doesn’t merely copy ideas past, she develops them into something new. She becomes a part of the continuing tradition.
Even as she acknowledges in the titles of her work, she stands atop the giants. The trio opens with “Silver Lining,” a hard bop homage to the great Horace Silver during which she romps through a kind of short history of piano styles from blues to boogie-woogie. But it’s not only Silver, “Ode to O.P.” honors Oscar Peterson with some elegant swing, and “Thank You for Your Time” points to Dave Brubeck and his influential work with time signatures. “Easy Speakin’” harkens back to stride piano stylings with sparkling wit. And it’s not only pianists, her “New Year’s Resolution” is inspired, she tells us, by the second movement of Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.”
Of course, her inspirations come from other places as well. The melodic lyricism of “Mr. Jeremy’s Mackintosh” comes from the childhood idylls of Beatrix Potter, while Harper Lee’s stately hero from To Kill a Mockingbird comes through in “Atticus.” “Barcelona,” which concludes the set, is a portrait of what she calls in the liner notes, one of her “favorite cities.” “Anxiety” is a frenetic allusion to the demands of college life, while “ctrl-alt-del” allows her to deal with the frustrations endemic to the computer user.
Dubin plays with both maturity and the joy of youth, at times subtle, at times playful. She is joined by a rhythm section consisting of drummer Antonio H. Guerrero and bassist Sam Weber. Both contribute some fine solo work throughout.
Meet the Laura Dubin Trio and you’ll meet some excellent jazz.
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