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Geoffrey Keezer: Other Spheres

The handy, and thoughtful, pianist Geoff Keezer has matriculated his way into the jazz scene by now, but his musical evolution has been in the works for awhile. On this date for DIW, recorded in 1992, Keezer’s skills as a bandleader, composer and player of no uncertain intensity shines through. The operative point-of-departure here seems to be Wayne Shorter’s compositional and arrangemental influence, with intricate patchworks of phrases, motive-manipulating, and a restless that reminds us (or anticipates, chronologically) Shorter’s ingenious and thickly-plotted High Life, but with a tougher attitude in the improvisational aspects. The date is enhanced by the presence of trumpeter Bill Mobley (to whom the deceptively cool “Moblike” is dedicated), Shorter-esque saxist Bill Pierce, and then artists-veering-towards-greater-recognition, vibist Steve Nelson, drummer Leon Parker, guitarist Peter Bernstein. There are lustrous, lyrical moments (as with the lovely, brainy ballad “Night Fire”) throughout, but this is generally not easy-going or vamp-y music, but rather a series of tightly organized and contrapuntally-oriented pieces, as with “Event Horizon” and “Flight Simulator,” often taking fruitful advantage of the textural variety in its mid-size ensemble setting.

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