Album Review of
Just Chillin'

Written by Robert Silverstein
May 11, 2021 - 3:35pm EDT
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Florida-based Mike Levine returns in 2021 with a new CD called Just Chillin. Living up to its title, the 13-track, 55-minute album features a range of easy-on-the-ears instrumentals featuring Mike’s dynamic piano and keyboards skills supported by a number of excellent musicians including Steve Oliver (guitar), Lindsey Blair (guitar), Will Lee (bass) along with a range of Florida’s finest jazz musicians. Just Chillin is in fact Mike’s fourth album as a solo artist, having played as far back as 1981 as the co-founder of The Ross-Levine Band, and their first album from '81 also featured guitarist Pat Metheny as a guest artist. In his resume, Mike lists gigs and recordings he's done with greats like Mel Torme, Jaco Pastorius, David Sanborn and many others and that sense of musical expertise and finesse can also be heard on Just Chillin. In fact, the CD packaging for Just Chillin lists more than 20 different artists that are also featured on the album. Although Just Chillin features a range of originals composed by Mike, a certain highlight is a cover of the Beatles 1966 classic “Eleanor Rigby”, interpreted here as a driving, jazzy instrumental. There's also one vocal track here called "Star Gazing" that makes a fine contrast to the instrumental fare. While the majority of the tracks here are breezy, upbeat smooth jazz in nature, Mike sometimes takes the music into somewhat more challenging directions, for example on track 3 here, the appropriately titled “Reflection”. From thoughtful to smooth, the instrumental groove in play on Just Chillin is a fine way to get acquainted with jazz pianist Mike Levine.