Geoff Keezer Wildcrafted: Live at the Dakota MaxJazz
Though still in their 30s, pianists Geoff Keezer and Peter Martin are seasoned veterans who have proven their mettle with some of the biggest names in jazz. Keezer is probably the better known of the two, with numerous albums as a leader and high-profile sideman gigs dating from his days as a teenage wunderkind with Art Blakey. His latest release on the MaxJazz label, Wildcrafted, is a typically impressive trio date recorded live in Minneapolis with bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Terreon Gully.
Beginning with a radically reworked take on "Stompin' at the Savoy, Keezer and company explore an adventurous set that runs the gamut from Ellington to Björk (who, along with Radiohead appears to be the rock icon of choice for jazz artists these days). While rooted firmly in the mainstream, Keezer has a deep passion for East Asian music, which he indulges on original compositions like "Koikugari Bushi, drawing on the music of Okinawa and "Breath of the Volcano, taking its inspiration from a mountain in Japan. Though these tunes occasionally risk crossing the line from the intriguingly exotic to the no-man's land of new age, Keezer is saved by his dazzling technique and underlying hard bop sensibility.
In the P.M.
Peter Martin has also been on the scene since his teen years, when he was "discovered in St. Louis by Wynton Marsalis. Since then, he's served ably in the bands of Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove and Nicholas Payton, worked as musical director for singers like Betty Carter and Dianne Reeves and contributed to Marsalis' Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.
Martin's new release, In the P.M., is a satisfying straight-ahead effort that pits the New Orleans-based pianist against the first-rate rhythm section of drummer Greg Hutchinson and bassist Reuben Rogers. Martin has a light, lyrical touch at the keyboard and a great feel for standards like "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To and "The Nearness of You, which feature the pleasant, though unexceptional vocals of Erin Bode. Martin shines on ballads like J.J. Johnson's "Lament but can also heat things up, as on the high-spirited opener "Never Let Me Go. Though there's nothing trailblazing here, In the P.M. is a relaxed, romantic album that should appeal to a wide array of listeners.
Tracks: Stompin' at the Savoy; Tea and Watercolors; Koikugari Bushi; Mirrim; Ghost in the Photograph; The Kindest Soul; Black and Tan Fantasy; Venus as a Boy; Breath of the Volcano.
Personnel: Geoff Keezer: piano; Fender Rhodes; Matt Clohesy: bass; Terreon Gully: drums.
In the P.M.
Tracks: Never Let Me Go; If It's Magic; You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To; Come Rain or Come Shine; Modern Cacophony; Only in a Dream; The Answer; Lament; 'Ting for Ray; The Nearness of You; It Could Happen to You.
Personnel: Peter Martin: piano, Fender Rhodes; Reuben Rogers: bass; Greg Hutchinson: drums; Erin Bode: vocals.