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Geoffrey Keezer & Friends: Playdate (MarKeez)

A review of the pianist's album that punctuates his versatility

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Geoffrey Keezer & Friends: Playdate (MarKeez)
The cover of Playdate by Geoffrey Keezer & Friends

If, as he states in the album’s press materials, Geoffrey Keezer wanted Playdate to punctuate his versatility, he sure gets right down to it. A rush of strings, a touch of harp, and only then does the core group get down to business. He’s got our attention all right! From there, the opening track, a Keezer original titled “Refuge,” settles into more familiar small-combo territory, although nobody ought to mind as the players on the date—particularly Hammond B-3 man Shedrick Mitchell, saxophonist Ron Blake, and guest guitarist Aayushi Karnik—are in the pocket from the start, tossing out bright, engaging colors left and right. Kendrick Scott’s intuitively sharp drumming, Richie Goods’ bass work, and Munyungo Jackson’s percussion round out the cast with groove galore. The leader keeps his maiden piano solo brief and taut, but it’s enough to let us know he means business.

Keezer is more than three decades into his career now, but still only 51. He’s been highly prolific the whole time, but Playdate is fashioned as, and proves to be, a definitive statement. “Her Look, Her Touch,” composed by Mitchell, is an airy ballad designed to showcase Keezer’s virtuosity and abundance of style within the quieter format, while “Tomorrow,” a ’70s album track by the Brothers Johnson, retains the original instrumental’s slick soul but turns up the heat a few notches (Keezer should’ve let guest guitarist Nir Felder wail a while longer, though). “Bebah” brings the orchestra back for more grandiosity and two other Keezer originals, “I.L.Y.B.D.” and the finale, “M’s Bedtime Blues,” give the proceedings a swinging note where it’s needed, the latter affording everyone a chance to boogie and pushing the album’s stylistic diversity in yet another direction.

Learn more about Playdate on Amazon and Apple Music.

Geoffrey Keezer Trio: On My Way to You (MarKeez)

Jeff Tamarkin

Jeff Tamarkin on social media

Jeff Tamarkin is the former editor of Goldmine, CMJ, Relix, and Global Rhythm. As a writer he has contributed to the New York Daily News, JazzTimes, Boston Phoenix, Harp, Mojo, Newsday, Billboard, and many other publications. He is the author of the book Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane and has contributed to The Guinness Companion to Popular Music, All Music Guide, and several other encyclopedias. He has also served as a consultant to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NARAS, National Geographic Online, and Music Club Records.