Ask local jazz enthusiasts about vocalist Michael Summers, and they may refer to him as the “Michael Bublé of the 405.” This, however, is news to Summers.
“You know what? I’m not offended,” Summers said. “He’s a great singer, for sure. I’ll take it!” While pleased with the comparison, he’s quick to note that he’s his own talent.
“I’m a tenor, so my range is a little bit different that his,” he said. “His style is smoother, like an Andy Williams or a Perry Como. I have a little bit more of an edgy presence.”
Summers’ crooning will be on full display Saturday at the UCO Jazz Lab to celebrate the release of his latest album, More. He drew on a lifetime of musical experience for the disc, including R&B, soul and rock.
“The record is straight-ahead swing, but if you listen to it, there are hints and haunts of those stylings,” he said. “There’s always going to be an opportunity to bring out that style of music in my voice and anything I create. It really shows on More. I’m pretty proud at how it turned out.”
The UCO Jazz Lab has been Summers’ main musical home for “closing in on 10 years,” teaching him the difference between playing for the love of music and the love of a paycheck.
“When you take a jazz band and put them in the corner, it becomes a dinner-music set, as opposed to an area where you can ‘show,’” he said. “I tend to stay more in line with that, the type of venues that can offer a presence where you can do a stage show, as opposed to just a jazz gig.”
It’s this love of a space where musicians can flaunt their chops that has Summers most excited for Saturday’s CD release show.
“We’ve been working really hard to make it really spectacular,” he said. “We’re going to have a two-camera live feed to a big screen behind us. We’re going to record the show so we can edit for live audio and video. We’re even going to have an upstairs VIP area.”
Even with all those perks, he believes that the jazz experience is, in the end, the No. 1 reason to attend.
“Right now, I don’t know too many artists in Oklahoma who are taking on this job. I can’t think of too many standards singers around right now,” Summers said. “I say this record is real close to Frank Sinatra’s Live in Paris. It has that same kind of organic nature about it. That comes from our shows. We’re going to have some fun — a whole bunch of fun.”