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Thirty-two-year-old Midwesterner Geoff Keezer was one of the last pianists to work as a part of the Ray Brown Trio. Many writers that I have spoken with feel that he was the quintessential Ray Brown pianist. The late Mr. Brown favored double-fisted orchestral pianists with a jones for the blues but also a strong ballad sensibility. I have always favored the late Gene Harris, but Keezer might edge him out by a nose. Mr. Keezer’s previous recording Zero One was well received.
The pianist's Telarc debut as a leader is a bold stroke. Keezer teams up with four prominent pianists for a series of duets honoring the great Sam Jones, who turns 85 years old this year. The disc presents Mr. Keezer in the left channel and the other pianists in the right channel. The results with Kenny Barron, Chick Corea, Benny Green, and Mulgrew Miller are equally fine. Highlights include Keezer’s duet with Benny Green on "Hank’s Blues," where these two Ray Brown pianists practice an impressive display of telepathy. Jones shares his composition "Lullaby" with Mulgrew Miller, whose tenderness serves as a perfect foil for Keezer’s muscular tone. The title cut is Keezer alone, and perhaps celebrates Hank Jones the best— simply.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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