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 Tuesday, 29 July 2014
Jazz Police Interview With Geoffrey Keezer PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Thursday, 13 October 2005

“I think playing music helps to heal the world, little by little, in teeny steps.” –Geoffrey Keezer (November 19, 2004)

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Photo by Andrea Canter


For his tenth recording as leader, multi-talented keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer brought his trio to his “home away from home” stage at the Dakota in Minneapolis for a live session for Max Jazz last September. The results of that incredible evening (Wildcrafted: Live at the Dakota) will be unveiled in celebrations at the Village Vanguard in New York City (October 18-23) and “back home” at the Dakota (October 24-25).

Geoffrey Keezer’s career has included serving as the last pianist for Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, as a very young collaborator with James Williams, Mulgrew Miller, Donald Brown, and Harold Mabern as the Contemporary Piano Ensemble, and more than a decade leading his own groups. He’s paid tribute to Hank Jones (Sublime), joined forces with Hawaiian slack key guitarist Keola Beamer (Falling Up), and engaged in a series of performance and recording with guitar legend Jim Hall. Among his generation of 30-something virtuosos—which includes modern masters Brad Mehldau, Jason Moran, Eric Reed, Ethan Iverson, and Craig Taborn—he stands out as a creative composer as well as performer. The Jazz Police caught up with Keezer via e-mail, during his fall tour with David Sanborn.

 

JP. You've been working with some very diverse musicians lately--Christian McBride, Jim Hall, and David Sanborn. What's new with your own groups--what direction(s) are you headed?

GK. Right now I'm excited to be touring with my own trio, with Mike Pope on bass and Terreon Gully on drums, whom I've been playing with for 5 years with the Christian McBride Band. The same trio is backing up David Sanborn on all his gigs this fall, and Dave has been very generous to give us plenty of feature space on the shows.

 

JP. On your ongoing journal on your website, you discuss the spiritual connection in music, viewing music as an avenue to bring peace. How do you think the events of the past few years--9/11, Tsunami, Iraq, Katrina (etc.) have affected your music--compositions, performance, choices of where to go and what to do?

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Photo by Andrea Canter
GK. I can't say that specific disasters have affected my music in specific ways, or have been "inspiration" so to speak. Obviously what's going on on Earth right now is almost too awful to even grasp, all at once. I know I'm only one person, and I certainly don't have the far-reaching demographic of a pop star who can influence millions with their music or public statements. But I believe any change has to start with us, on the inside first. Maybe it won't look like much on the outside, but there is a definite movement toward consciousness in the world, whether it's through exploring religion, yoga, meditation, or in my case by attempting to utilize and experience music-making as a conscious process. We have to keep thinking positive, shining light in the world, no matter what.

JP. You grew up in a family where music was a major component of daily life. [Father Ron Keezer headed the jazz band program at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.] Looking back now, how did that environment inform your development as a young musician, and how does it impact your work today?

GK. I feel so fortunate and blessed to have had the total support of my parents in whatever I wanted to do. Of course if my parents hadn't been musicians I might have turned out differently. But as a kid, I thought everybody played music - it just seemed so normal to me!

JP. Any comments about the new Live at the Dakota recording?

GK. I can say with confidence and gratitude that this is one of the best records I've ever made. Maybe the best playing I've captured on record so far — and I'm glad because for a while I didn't think I'd ever be able to play as well as I did on the Ray Brown CDs. And that was totally because of the great support I got from Ray and Karriem (Riggins), I'm not saying my own playing was anything special really. But at that time (1997-2000) we were touring 300 days a year and my chops were really up. So I'm happy that I've been able to capture some good live playing again, with more life experience informing my playing. Maybe a little more grown up. Compare the new version of "Stompin' at the Savoy" to the one I did in 1996 on Turn Up the Quiet — it's way more interesting and much freer now.

The Geoffrey Keezer Trio will celebrate the release of Wildcrafted: Live at the Dakota at the Village Vanguard in New York, October 18-23, sets at 9 and 11 pm. You can now reserve tickets online at www.villagevanguard.com. In Minneapolis, the celebration will take place over two nights at the Dakota, October 24-25, sets at 7 and 9 pm. Reservations are recommended—call 612-332-1010 or reserve online at www.dakotacooks.com. For more information and samples of music, visit www.geoffkeezer.com. Wildcrafted is scheduled for public release on October 25th. Many thanks to Geoffrey Keezer for taking the time to respond to this interview. Click here for a review of Wildcrafted.


 



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