Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


The Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group, Half Moon Bay, CA, July 8, 2012

The Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group, Half Moon Bay, CA, July 8, 2012
Bill Leikam By

Sign in to view read count
Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group
Douglas Beach House
Half Moon Bay, California
July 8, 2012

Vibraphonist Joe Locke and keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer have both played the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society at the Douglas Beach House before Sunday July 8th, 2012, but with this appearance of the Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group, the pair brought a fresh power to the venue, the likes of which may not be topped by any gathering of musicians in the near future. Along with Joe Locke on the vibes, Geoffrey Keezer on the Steinway Grand Piano and his Yamaha Motif XS8 synthesizer, the duo brought Mike Pope on his stand-up and his electric basses, while Marvin "Smitty" Smith, probably the most sought after side jazz drummer of our time, sat behind an impressive array of drums. Toward the end of the show, featured vocalist Kenny Washington sang Locke's "Verrazano Moon." The quartet arrived as part of a mini-tour after playing in Reno Nevada the night before. The play list consisted of selections from the group's new album Signing, an interesting collaboration between Locke and Keezer, released by Motéma Music in 2012.

It is not often that a philosophical thread lies behind the making and execution of an album and, if there is, those in the audience often go uninformed. Locke explained, "The music is trying to connect with others. We are trying to reach out, trying to send signs, send messages through our music. We are using our music to connect and communicate with you." Signing is a successful attempt to do just that. A part of that communication came from the intensity of Locke's facial expressions as his mallets flew across the bars and he mouthed each hit as it came down. The man played with passion and meaning while, over on the piano, Keezer's flashing smile sent the message that he enjoyed this music.

From the outset, it was clear that this quartet had done its homework, worked through all of the pieces, and knew when and where to lay it down. The range of tunes scaled from delicate to intense and the group mixed the playlist so well, it was impossible to foretell whether the next piece in the set would become wild and powerful or delicate and smooth.

By the third song in set one, "Her Sanctuary," the quartet had its direction. Keezer led the piece with melodic overtones, staccato hits on the keys that drew from Locke a delicious delicacy that added mid-night dimensions to the piece. In the upper registry, Locke made the vibes nearly talk. Pope was on his electric bass pumping through that background rhythmic structure that could not help but add to the overall sense and feeling of the piece. As the piece launched into a sustained crescendo, Smith came up from the background and knocked out a near perfect solo. "Her Sanctuary" shot from high energy, down into soft vibes and piano. At the end, the tune slipped away off into the ether.

In set two, with "Hide and Seek," the audience spontaneously applauded almost throughout the piece. This was not the typical applause following a solo or featured instrumental within the tune, but instead was simply an acknowledgement of these four masters onstage. The album's title track, in set two, began with an upbeat stride to it, Keezer knocking it out on both the grand piano and synthesizer at the same time, while Locke's mallets flowed over the bars as though the tune was happily running away with everyone. With every note played, these two masters knew how to reach out and make their instruments sing and dance at the same time. Behind it all, "Smitty" weighed in heavily on the drums, keeping with the vibes and backing Keezer's piano while Pope on the bass held down the background rhythm of the number.

For the full two sets that day, the Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group blew the house down, uniting the music with the audience, accomplishing what the album had set out to do. As Locke said early in the concert, "The music is trying to connect ...." The live show did that better than could be expected. With a standing ovation that arose for them hearts of this sophisticated audience, Keezer and Locke returned to the stage as a duo to perform, "Sword of Whispers," not a part of the album but a mellow, very delicate tune that rounded out a historical concert at the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, aka the Douglas Beach House.

Photo Credit

Chuck Gee


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery Live Reviews Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery
by Kurt Gottschalk
Published: December 10, 2017
Read The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace Live Reviews The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace
by Doug Collette
Published: December 10, 2017
Read Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre Live Reviews Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: December 8, 2017
Read BAN BAM: Music Talking Live Reviews BAN BAM: Music Talking
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 7, 2017
Read David Amram 87th Birthday Celebration at the Falcon Live Reviews David Amram 87th Birthday Celebration at the Falcon
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's" Live Reviews Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's
by Mike Jacobs
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens" Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2017
by Doug Collette
Published: June 18, 2017
Read "Bob Niederitter Trio At The Bop Stop" Live Reviews Bob Niederitter Trio At The Bop Stop
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 9, 2017
Read "Fred Hersch's Leaves Of Grass at Jazz at Lincoln Center" Live Reviews Fred Hersch's Leaves Of Grass at Jazz at Lincoln Center
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 26, 2017
Read "Gary Peacock Trio at Jazz Standard" Live Reviews Gary Peacock Trio at Jazz Standard
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 9, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!