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Geoffrey Keezer: Zero One

Pianist Keezer has been paying dues, playing up a poetic storm and generally living the life of the important young jazzer on the sideman sidelines-Art Blakey, Ray Brown Trio and others-for years now. When he sits down to play, we can rely on a good, probing example of modern jazz piano with an ear on the past. He’s got plenty of chops and ideas up his sleeves, though, as his latest project attests: a solo piano recording that is as adventurous as it is grounded in pure musicality. It can be a bit all-over-the-map, without smooth segues between the varied instincts to blow, wax lyrical, reinvent and experiment (including one track, “Fractured,” with backwards and sampled piano tracks, on what is otherwise a slight pleasantry of a track). “Sleep Flying” is an etude in cavernous reverb, all ambient space, hovering tonalities and virtually no attack. That’s followed, somewhat jarringly, by the romantic gestures of his take on David Bowie’s “Life on Mars.” In the timely realm of Ellingtonia, “Black and Tan Fantasy” becomes a dense, roiling post-stride vehicle, and he offers lyrical grace with a dreamy take on “Blood Count.” Like Brad Mehldau, he also bends an ear towards more modern pop material, bringing a jazz spin and new life to the Beatles tune “Across the Universe,” the waltz-time sweetness of Stevie Wonder’s “These Three Words” and Bjork’s “Venus as a Boy.” The sum effect is an album that, along with projects by his twentysomething peers, hints at the emergence of a new jazz pianism.

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