Vibraphonist Joe Locke and keyboardist Geoff Keezer have had three recorded collaborations - the first two were released in Japan only on a different label. Their latest CD was recorded live at the 2005 Ballard Jazz Festival and is a real gem. Imagine a revved up Modern Jazz Quartet with a more assertive drummer (Terreon Gully) and you get the picture. This CD starts out smoking and the groove does not let up for nearly an hour later. A mixture of post bop and fusion with Keezer mixing piano and electric keyboards, this release is an accessible wild ride. The interplay between Locke and Keezer is uncanny and driven by the strong cymbal and drum work of Gully, the duo takes off on focused assertive runs. This is evidenced in the opening track, Van Gogh by Numbers and scarcely lets up. Locke has developed into one of the top vibists in the business, as evidenced by a recent tribute CD to Milt Jackson of the MJQ that was reviewed on this site recently. Here his simpatico with Keezer is evident as the two push each other being driven by drummer, Gully. The appreciative Ballard audience gives a spirited response conducive to a band going far beyond just going through their paces.
I especially loved their version of James Taylor's Native Son. It is taken at a gentle pacing before picking up steam as the 6:38 track concludes. Locke's Miramar is another gentle then driving extended composition. Once again the piano/vibes connection between the two leaders is uncanny as if connected at the hip.
I can't recommend this CD highly enough for fans of Keezer and Locke. This CD will appeal to young jazz fans looking for more drive than the chamber music jazz of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Marketing correctly to this demographic, Origin Records could have a strong selling CD on their hands. Well deserved in my opinion!