Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

201

Geoffrey Keezer: Wildcrafted: Live at the Dakota

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist Geoffrey Keezer's career has consistently delivered on the early promise he displayed when he first emerged on the scene as a precocious nineteen year-old in Art Blakey's last Jazz Messengers. In the past fifteen years he's recorded and/or toured alongside contemporaries Roy Hargrove and Christian McBride, in addition to working with legends like Ray Brown and Art Farmer.

But since the early part of this decade, and with two projects in particular, Keezer has truly emerged from under the stylistic umbrella of influence by the usual jazz suspects. His own solo outing Zero One (Dreyfus, 2000) found him exploring a repertoire of largely original music, putting his interest in 20th Century classical composers and contemporary pop music alongside his unequivocal understanding of the jazz tradition. His collaboration with vibraphonist Joe Locke on British woodwind multi-instrumentalist Tim Garland's two Storms/Nocturnes Trio recordings further solidified his appreciation for combining detailed through-composition with more interactive interplay.

Wildcrafted: Live at the Dakota finds Keezer and his trio with bassist Matt Clohesy and the increasingly ubiquitous drummer Terreon Gully exploring a repertoire that, while heavily weighted towards his own writing, also looks as far afield as contemporary Okinawan composers Naohiko Uehara and Sadao China, intrepid pop songstress Björk, and more traditional jazz artists Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington.

Some groups take their time to warm up, but the set opener—Goodman's chestnut "Stompin' at the Savoy, radically transformed from swing staple to something more powerfully modern—wastes no time in establishing the trio's fearless approach. As if Keezer's flat-out solo isn't enough to galvanize the audience, Gully's frenetic but never superfluous playing raises the energy level even further.

Keezer's writing tends to revolve around complicated thematic structures. "Tea and Watercolors runs through a gamut of tightly knit ideas before settling into the pedal-tone modal vamp that forms the core of Keezer's solo. It's a challenge to build a solo over a static harmonic backdrop, but Keezer's sense of narrative and the empathic responsiveness of Clohesy and Gully maintain interest throughout. The trio's take on the Latin-informed "Mirim is more intense, and taken at a faster clip, than the version on Falling Up (MaxJazz, 2003).

While acoustic piano is Keezer's main axe, he also uses the Fender Rhodes to broaden his sonic palette, indicating that for him texture is of equal importance. On the ballad "Koikugari Bushi Keezer processes the Rhodes heavily, creating a cloudlike cushion of sound that's distanced from the instrument's typically bell-like timbre, an approach he also uses effectively on a reggae-inflected version of Björk's "Venus as a Boy.

As Keezer's career unfolds, it's clear that he's capable of operating in the same space as other artists who are incorporating a myriad of contemporary influences. But unlike Esbjörn Svensson, his pop sensibility shimmers underneath a more vivid surface layer of jazz tradition; and unlike Brad Mehldau, he tends to more complex composition. The compelling compositional appeal and improvisational élan of Wildcrafted mark Keezer—a player transcending his early roots and now emerging as a more well-rounded artist—as clearly worthy of equal attention.

Track Listing: Stompin' at the Savoy; Tea and Watercolors; Koikugari Bushi; Mirrim; Venus as a Boy; The Kindest Soul (for J.W.); Black and Tan Fantasy; Ghost in the Photograph; Breath of the Volcano.

Personnel: Geoffrey Keezer: piano, Fender Rhodes; Matt Clohesy: bass; Terreon Gully: drums.

Title: Wildcrafted: Live at the Dakota | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: MAXJAZZ

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jun1Sat
Geoffrey Keezer
@exuberance
Philadelphia, PA
$30

Related Articles

Read Caldera / Sky Islands Album Reviews
Caldera / Sky Islands
By Jakob Baekgaard
May 25, 2019
Read Baby, Please Come Home Album Reviews
Baby, Please Come Home
By Doug Collette
May 25, 2019
Read Reckless Heart Album Reviews
Reckless Heart
By Doug Collette
May 25, 2019
Read Fire Brigade Album Reviews
Fire Brigade
By Phillip Woolever
May 25, 2019
Read Day to Day Album Reviews
Day to Day
By Paul Naser
May 24, 2019
Read Theia Album Reviews
Theia
By Jim Worsley
May 24, 2019