On a hot summer Tuesday night, I decided to check out the soothing piano sounds of a great young master of the keyboard. The piano player was Geoffrey Keezer.
He has played and recorded with jazz greats Art Blakey and Ray Brown. He has released recordings covering a diverse ground of music ranging from Latin, world, and modern jazz. In this particular evening he returns to the heart of playing solo jazz piano with an eclectic repertoire consisting of pop tunes and jazz standards rolled into one great jazz experience.
In the first set, Keezer started out with an interpretation of the great Stevie Wonder classic “These Three Words”. There was a strong influence of McCoy Tyner in the performance that was captivating and mesmerizing to the ears and eyes. The next two songs in the first set are rock classics, which is Peter Gabriel’s “Come Talk to Me” and Rush’s “Limelight”. Through playing these songs, Keezer showed that rock and pop tunes can be great vehicles for jazz exploration, and even introduces great nuances and aspects of the songs to a new audience.
The most emotional song of the night had to be a take on Robert Burns’ “My Love is Like a Red Red Rose”. In this performance Keezer brought out the gospel and spiritual influences in his playing and transformed it into a very spiritual experience that you would get coming from a church service.
Along with the eclectic mix of pop tunes played, Keezer still had room for the great jazz standards interpreted with such flair and soul. Keezer’s take on Duke Ellington’s “Black and Tan Fantasy” was a rousing and soulful take on the blues echoeing Oscar Peterson at points. On the obscure Thelonious Monk piece “Coming on the Hudson”, Keezer explored and took that piece into various directions, even echoeing the great Thelonious Monk at places while keeping his own voice. But what really showed Keezer’s brilliant speedy technique and prowess was his take on Duke Ellington’s “Take the Coltrane”, with its lightening fast runs and bass lines that makes him a complete band of his own, without the need of further accompaniment to create such swing and excitement.
It was one of the most eclectic jazz solo piano performances during the jazz festival that I have been to. It is refreshing to not hear the same standards done to death, but have Keezer choose obscure tunes and pop songs and create a brand new experience for the jazz listener. All in all, it was a great night of jazz from a great young master in the business working today.
OFFICIAL GEOFF KEEZER WEB SITE
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