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Geoffrey Keezer: Wildcrafted – Live at the Dakota

Geoffrey Keezer’s musical erudition and diverse interests have often led him to unusual projects (four-piano ensembles, collaborations with Hawaiian slack-key guitarists). Wildcrafted is, finally, a live trio album from this enormously skilled and creative pianist, recorded at the Dakota in Minneapolis. It does not quite live up to its high expectations.

Keezer has been a meticulous recording artist, as exemplified by the elegance of his previous MaxJazz album, Falling Up. A live album is expected to be looser. But Wildcrafted sounds arbitrary, as if someone taped a couple of Keezer sets without his knowledge. The nine performances are intense at all tempos, but more prolix than incandescent. His studio versions of material like “Mirrim” and “Black and Tan Fantasy” are superior. Two additional disappointments are the undistinguished sound, with its odd low output and overloaded drums, and the tasteless, uninteresting drum work itself, by Terreon Gully.

All that said, any evening with Geoffrey Keezer is going to contain some fun. “Stompin’ at the Savoy” is inventively distorted and assailed. Bjork’s “Venus As a Boy” is a poem translated into a new percussive language whose piquant essence is retained. “The Kindest Soul,” a eulogy for James Williams, contains as much joy in Williams’ life and achievement as sadness at his loss.

Originally Published