© Andrea Canter
“…not only a superb technician and improviser, but also above and beyond this, a composer and conceptualist who can maintain the overall line and the DNA of the song in everything he plays. A musician’s musician.” —Sting
With his highly regarded discography, unique compositions, and acclaimed performances in a variety of configurations, Grammy-winning pianist Geoffrey Keezer commands the attention typically reserved for the living legends of jazz. Whether recording with jazzy chanteuses Diana Krall or Dianne Reeves, touring with trumpet king Chris Botti, or collaborating with pop icon Sting, star bassist Christian McBride or vibes master Joe Locke, Geoffrey “has more than enough virtuosity and sheer musical wit and intelligence to weave all of his apparently disparate strands of influence into an original and compelling whole” (Time Magazine). An Eau Claire, WI native who grew up playing around the Twin Cities, Geoffrey returns to the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge on Monday, July 3, this time spotlighting his talents as a solo pianist.
Geoffrey Keezer was playing in jazz clubs (including the Dakota) as a teenager. In his first year at the Berklee College of Music, Geoffrey caught the ear of the late James Williams, who brought the young pianist to the attention of Sunnyside Records, yielding his debut releases, Waiting in the Wings (1989) and Curveball (1990). At only 18, Keezer traded college for the last edition of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, appearing on Blakey’s 1990 release, One for All.
Other hallmarks of Geoffrey’s early career included touring in the early 1990s with veteran pianists James Williams, Mulgrew Miller, Donald Brown, and Harold Mabern in the Contemporary Piano Ensemble, and as a member of the “Three Musicians” with saxophonist Joshua Redman and bassist Christian McBride. As his career matured, Keezer added to his list of recordings and collaborations with equal speed, releasing Here and Now (Blue Note 1991), World Music (DIW/Columbia, 1992), Other Spheres (DIW, 1993), Trio (Sackville, 1993), Turn Up the Quiet (Columbia, 1998) with Diana Krall, Joshua Redman and Christian McBride, and the solo Zero One (Dreyfus, 1999). Throughout the 90s, Geoffrey played and recorded with the likes of Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Gerry Mulligan, Roy Hargrove, Terence Blanchard, J. J. Johnson, George Coleman, Donald Harrison, Bobby Watson, and The Mingus Dynasty. One of his most significant employers in the late 90s was the late Ray Brown.
Keezer’s work in the new century has underscored his diverse and global interests, working across jazz, classical, rock and world music traditions, living a while in Japan before relocating to San Diego. His Sublime (MaxJazz, 2003) is a series of duets (with Kenny Barron, Chick Corea, Benny Green and Mulgrew Miller); Wildcrafted (MaxJazz, 2005) was recorded live at the Dakota Jazz Club with Keezer’s trio (Matt Clohesy and Terreon Gully). But Geoffrey has also turned his attention beyond American jazz idioms with projects based on the folk roots of Hawai’i (Falling Up, MaxJazz, 2003, with slack-key guitarist Keola Beamer), Okinawa’s Ryukyu Islands (Yasukatsu Oshima with Geoffrey Keezer, JVC Victor 2007), and Afro-Peruvian influences for the original music of his Grammy-nominated (Best Latin Jazz Album) Áurea (ArtistShare, 2009). Collaborations with David Sanborn, Joe Locke (The Joe Locke/Geoffrey Keezer Group), and with Locke and Tim Garland (Storms/Nocturnes) have yielded additional tours and recordings. And further expanding his artistic palette, Keezer worked in duo with the late guitar master Jim Hall (Free Association, ArtistShare 2006) and with Canadian electronica composer Mary Ancheta as Montre Echo (The Near Forever, 2009).
More recently he has toured with Sting, David Sanborn, Chris Botti, Joe Locke, Christian McBride, and Dianne Reeves; and recorded with vocalist Denise Donatelli on projects garnering three GRAMMY® nominations. Perhaps the most exciting turn in Geoffrey’s career is his recent focus on solo piano and his long-awaited second solo album, Heart of the Piano (2013, Motema Records), redefining solo jazz piano as a personal and interactive showcase of melody, energy and groove. And still he also continues as a vocalist’s best friend, his most recent release a duo masterpiece with Kendra Shank, Half Moon: Live in New York (2016, Ride Symbol Records).
Now in his mid-40s, Geoffrey Keezer brings a singular style of intellectually abstract lyricism woven over exotically complex rhythms and harmonies that makes him one of the most sought-after artists on the modern jazz scene. Regardless of the nature of his projects, from solo to duo to quartet, from bandleader to big band, from post bop jazz to electronica to global fusion, from composer to arranger, Geoffrey delivers music from the heart of the piano to the ear–and heart–of the listener.
Just a few hours from Geoffrey’s home town, the Dunsmore Room in Crooners Lounge– just north of downtown Minneapolis — offers an ideal intimate listening space (along with a nine-foot Steinway D grand) to enjoy solo piano. This marks Geoffrey’s third visit in little over a year, following two performances in 2016 with wife, vocalist Gillian Margot.
The Dunsmore Room in Crooners Lounge is located at 6161 Highway 65 NE in Fridley, MN, just north of I-694 and about 20 minutes northeast of downtown Minneapolis. Tickets $15/45, dinner package available. Reservations strongly recommended at www.croonersloungemn.com