"While Hank's style is firmly rooted in the stride piano tradition of his predecessorsFats Waller, Teddy Wilson, and Art Tatumhe is utterly contemporary. He is both inheritor and creator of a legacy." Geoffrey Keezer, from the liner notes
Pianist Geoffrey Keezer's Sublime: Honoring the Music of Hank Jones, pays tribute to a giant of jazz piano via a series of duets with some of the most prominent keyboardists in modern jazz: Kenny Barron, Chick Corea, Benny Green and Mulgrew Miller.
Inspired by the duo recordings of Jones and Tommy Flanagan, Keezer employs a similar approach here, delivering stylish but reverent takes on ten compositions, including "Hank's Blues," "Passing Time," "Time Warp," "Lullaby," "Things Are So Pretty in the Spring," "Alpha" and "Intimidation." Setting out to record a program of Hank Jones music, nearly every song on Keezer's Telarc debut was composed by Jones with the exception of "Favors," a Claus Ogerman original that has virtually become Jones' own since he introduced the tune into his repertoire. Sublime: Honoring the Music of Hank Jones also spotlights Keezer's virtuosity and chamber music approach on two solo performances: the opener "Angel Face" and the title track.
Instead of attempting to present the complete scope of Jones' work, Keezer chose compositions that would suit the individual tastes and talents of the other pianists. He comments, "Chick loves free improvisation. To provide a space for us to explore this while remaining true to Hank's composition, we expanded the last two bars of the original melody of 'Intimidation' into a free-form introduction. 'Favors,' originally a medium-tempo modal swinger, is played with Kenny as a down-tempo R&B ballad. Mulgrew suggested 'Alpha,' and Benny chose 'Things Are So Pretty in the Spring.'"
A brilliant improviser of modern music, Geoffrey Keezer was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in 1970. When he heard his first Hank Jones record at age fifteen, he says, "I was immediately drawn to Hank's light and even touch, his subtle shifts of color and texture, and his ultra-hip harmonic language, especially the unusual wide-open intervals in his left-hand voicings." The gifted young pianist joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers when he was just eighteen and went on to spend three years with the Ray Brown Trio. He's released a number of successful solo projects, including Here and Now in 1990, Turn up the Quiet in 1998 and Zero One in 2000. Jazz fans, fellow musicians and critics everywhere continue to marvel at Keezer's maturity and creative vision.
The oldest of the illustrious Jones brothers, (which include Thad and Elvin), Hank Jones was once a protégé of the legendary Art Tatum. Over the last six decades, he's played piano with jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and has garnered a wealth of acclaim and critical praise. Among the many labels that Jones has recorded for as a leader are Verve, Savoy, Epic, Capitol, Impulse and Concord.
Keezer concludes, "His albums are a virtual encyclopedia of jazz piano, and remain my guideposts to this day." Sublime: Honoring the Music of Hank Jones is a reflection of an extraordinary career in jazz and a unique portrait of the artistand teacherHank Jones.