Aug 25, 2022
A conversation with keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer crossed another name off my list of top-notch artists I have not had the pleasure to meet. His career began with roles in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and bands led by Ray Brown and Art Farmer, all before his 30th birthday. Since then, he has grown as a writer, performer, arranger and band leader, to say nothing of being a first call sideman for the likes of Benny Golson, Christian McBride, and Chris Botti.
On his 23rd album as a leader, Keezer continues to augment and refine his distinctive style. Playdate, on his own record label, MarKeez, is the perfect title for the project, as he has put together a group of distinguished collaborators, to create a new edition of “Geoffrey Keezer and Friends.”
On Playdate, collaborators Shedrick Mitchell on organ, Ron Blake on tenor and soprano saxophone, Richie Goods on acoustic and electric bass and Kendrick Scott on drums create the perfect partners for Keezer's musical productions. He has added guitarists Aayushi Karnik and Nir Felder, percussionist Munyungo Jackson, a String section and French Horns from Rachel Drehmann.
Though his intention was to remain “old school” with a Blue Note-style blowing date, Keezer found inspiration in his love of strings and percussion amidst his writing and decided to expand. From the Hard Bop sound of “I.L.Y.B.D.” (“I Love You But Damn”) to the funky arrangement of “Tomorrow” (from The Brothers Johnson by way of Quincy Jones) and the string soaked "Bebah," there's an awful lot to like in Playdate.
In Podcast 928 we talk about the new album, his times playing with Art Blakey and Art Farmer, and how he almost joined up with Miles Davis. Musical selections include the album closer, "M’s Bedtime Blues.” The tune is based on a melody that Keezer and his wife, vocalist Gillian Margot, created when their son began to play with his drum kit over nightly FaceTime sessions with Keezer's late father.