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

Review of the pianist's first album in five years

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Cover of Geoffrey Keezer album On My Way to You
Cover of Geoffrey Keezer album On My Way to You

There are a number of pianists blessed with such technique that they could play pretty much anything. Where Geoffrey Keezer has them beat is that he can also think of pretty much anything—and on this album, he does.

Granted, he’s had time to gather his thoughts, having gone five years since his last album, the understatedly virtuosic Heart of the Piano. But the wait was worth it. Take the way he and his trio—bassist Mike Pope and drummer Lee Pearson—approach “All the Things You Are.” Instead of making it into the usual circle-of-fifths juggernaut, Keezer and company halve the tempo and reduce the bass line to a skeletal thump, lending the tune an almost modal feel. This harmonic deconstruction goes on for almost five minutes, whereupon a sequence of gospel chords introduces an actual funk groove, and suddenly—saints be praised!—we’re listening to Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Serpentine Fire.” Betcha didn’t see that coming.

There’s also a take on Thelonious Monk’s “Brilliant Corners” that, two choruses in, finds Pope unexpectedly switching to electric and pumping out a bassline borrowed from Miles’ “On the Corner.” And if that weren’t enough, after funking around a few times through the form, Keezer throws a change-up of his own, pounding the melody home as if trying to imagine what it would sound like if Slayer were a piano trio.

Not that Keezer is above playing things straight. There’s a gorgeous rendering of John Lennon’s “Across the Universe” that slowly morphs into “Give Peace a Chance,” and a duo performance of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” with singer Gillian Margot that will leave you thinking, “Roberta who?” Clearly, this is a man who should record more frequently than every half-decade.

Preview, buy or download On My Way to You on Amazon!

Originally Published