Geoffrey Keezer & Friends: Playdate

Blakey's last pianist ploughs the modern-mainstream furrow with reliable skill and creativity, offering swing, a ballad, a blues and more


Geoffrey Keezer has come a long way since as an 18-year-old he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1989. He was destined to be last pianist to join the venerated group. Ever since, he has kept the best of company and for Playdate he assembled a bunch of musicians with similarly impressive CVs.

Apart from the tune Tomorrow the material is supplied by either the leader or organist Shedrick Mitchell and they produce a varied six-track menu in which most listeners are likely to find something of interest.

The leader is heard to good effect throughout but he does not hog the limelight, leaving his colleagues in the basic group plenty of time to tell their own story. Quality saxophonist Blake is quite muscular in his approach no matter the mood but certainly catches the ear in the process.

In the hands of Mitchell, who comes from a gospel background, the electric monster is never an overpowering presence and helps add a little extra colour, as does the string-replete orchestra heard on Refuge and Bebah.

We get some straightahead swing, a ballad and a basic blues in the mix. The 40-plus minutes of the set fly by in these talented hands.

Refuge; I. L. Y. B. D.; Her Look, Her Touch; Tomorrow; Bebah; M’s Bedtime Blues (42.58)
Keezer (p); Shedrick Mitchell (org); Ron Blake (ts, ss); Richie Goods (b, elb); Kendrick Scott (d) and others. New York, 30 June 2021 & 9 March 2022.
MarKeez Records MKR002