Honoring the Music of Hank Jones
Geoffrey Keezer, Piano Duets With
Kenny Barron Chick Corea
Benny Green Mulgrew Miller
Review Karl Lozier
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CD Number: Telarc CD-83563
The three Jones brothers shared an almost unbelievable amount of musical talent, fame and number of recordings between them. Elvin, one of the great drummers and best known for his association with the John Coltrane quartet, was the youngest. Thad, the middle brother, a well-known
trumpeter/cornetist was long associated with the Count Basie orchestra and even took over leadership of the group for a year until medical problems forced his retirement. Hank, the oldest of the three famous brothers, earned his reputation for his piano playing and varying styles, particularly bop and swing. In addition to playing with individuals such as accompanist for Ella Fitzgerald and many small groups, he added to his fame being the pianist in the Broadway musical Ain't
Misbehavin! Quite possibly only jazz aficionados realize that Hank Jones did a fair amount of composing, as I do not recall any that became widely known. For this unique album Geoffrey Keezer selected nine of Hank's compositions plus one long associated with him
Favors written by Claus Ogerman. His compositions are almost unknown outside of the world of jazz and even there many are not well known. For this CD Keezer chose four other pianists and each did two duets with him choosing Jones's compositions that fit each of their respective styles. No real attempt was made to showcase Jones full compositional scope.
Geoffrey Keezer is now in his early thirties. As with other gifted contemporaries his resume is quite impressive. At the top of that list is joining Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers group when he was eighteen years old. He was the last pianist with the Jazz Messengers. He also toured for three years with the great Ray Brown Trio and now performs with the Christian McBride Band. He was in that unique little series with Ray Brown where the disc's titles all started with the phrase, "Some of My Best Friends
Are"... The Piano Players [CD-83373], Singers [CD-83441],
The Trumpet Players [CD-83495], and Guitarists [CD-83499].
Everything about this recording is very professional. The performances are fine, no real complaints but ultimately perhaps lacking a bit of "fire or exuberance". The coordination within each of the four sets of duets is smooth and at times intricate but could be even more exciting with a bit of showmanship. Sounds as if no one wanted to be
accused of any one-upmanship. To repeat, everything, not most things about this project are very professionally done.
The style is mainly simply jazz but a few of the performances qualify as cool jazz. Nothing very adventuresome and nothing to irritate most listeners. Audio quality is definitely full range and quite excellent while earning an "almost as good as it gets" designation. Recordings received from Telarc the past few months are commonly so well done and a few take even that last tiny step up to "as good as I gets". There are no obvious faults audible but sometimes I got the impression of a bit of bleed over from left to right channel. This may be a result of microphone placement or perhaps to my less than ideal speaker placements at this time. In all the duets, Geoffrey Keezer's piano playing is heard in the left channel and his guests are captured in the right channel. A very enjoyable recording though I was not familiar with many of the individual selections - shame on me.