Reviews by J Hunter
Okay. Now that Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival and the Skidmore Summer Jazz Institute have passed, the only logical thing to do is throw a little more jazz (and a few more releases) into the air:
JOE LOCKE/GEOFFREY KEEZER QUARTET
Webster’s defines “synergy” as “the interaction of elements that, when combined, produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements.” Someone needs to start lobbying Webster’s to put pictures of Joe Locke and Geoffrey Keezer next to the definition, because when Locke’s vibes combine with Keezer’s keys (both electric and acoustic), the resulting sound is something totally next-level and indescribably beautiful. Whether it’s bewitching originals like Locke’s title track and Keezer’s “Darth Alexis” (a jumping tribute to his wife’s car) or the stunning geometric tapestry they make out of John Coltrane’s “Naima,” this set never stops surprising. Mike Pope’s throbbing electric bass gives “Signing” a real Old School fusion feel that’s contrasted by Terreon “Tank” Gully’s taut hip-hop drum lines. All told, the Locke/Keezer Quartet is a four-headed, eight-armed rhythm section whose massive effort currently sits on top of everything else I’ve heard this year. Don’t miss this, or you WILL miss out!
“Sounds of Space”
Fact: Quincy Jones does not attach his name to cowboys or losers. In this case, Jones has stepped in as producer on the debut disc of Cuban-born pianist Alfredo Rodriguez, a second-generation musician whose sound mixes the spicy tastes of Brazilian and Afro-Cuban with the heady improvisatory wire-walking of Keith Jarrett. (Rodriguez claims Jarrett’s seminal outing “The Koln Concerts” as one of his biggest influences.) The excitement comes at you in waves on the opener “Qbafrica,” which has you dancing to the beat one moment and then reeling from piano lines straight out of the avant-garde. Rodriguez makes Bud Powell a Cuban citizen on “Cubop,” while the frenetic “Crossing the Border” is Rodriguez’ solo-piano version of his own introduction to America. Don’t try to stuff Rodriguez into the traditional Latin box: It’s disrespectful to his rampant talent, and the box will be in pieces at the end.