Geoffrey Keezer Finesses Stevie Wonder, and Lionel Loueke Toasts John Coltrane, in Take Five

Jun 4, 2018

Geoffrey Keezer Trio, “These Three Words”

If you’ve caught Geoffrey Keezer on the bandstand in recent years, there’s a good chance you’ve either heard him unaccompanied, as on his fine 2013 album Heart of the Piano, or accompanying others, notably trumpeter Chris Botti. The last time Keezer released a trio album was more than a dozen years ago, when Wildcrafted: Live at the Dakota met with just acclaim.

So there’s more than one reason to welcome On My Way to You, which Keezer will self-release on June 22. It’s largely an acoustic trio album, with all the poise and resonant fullness you’d expect. The rhythm team consists of trusted partners: drummer Lee Pearson, a member of the Botti entourage, and bassist Mike Pope, a confrere in the Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group. (Joining them on several tracks is Gillian Margot, a soulful and style-blending vocalist from Toronto, who happens to be Keezer’s spouse.) The opening track, which has its premiere here, is a waltz arrangement of “These Three Words,” which Stevie Wonder wrote and performed for the Spike Lee film Jungle Fever. Easeful but firm, with a sure clarity of phrase, it’s a fine illustration of this group’s articulate command.

Geoffrey Keezer will perform a series of duets with different partners at Mezzrow, July 1 through 5. For more information about the album, visit his Kickstarter page.

Lionel Loueke Trio, “Countdown”

Lionel Loueke’s percussive yet flowing style on the guitar has always been personal and distinct; you couldn’t mistake him for anybody else. Throughout his career, going back to the turn of this century, he has also focused mainly on original music — either his own, or new material by his older collaborators, like Herbie Hancock or Terence Blanchard. It was always clear that Loueke could do miraculous things with a standard (like “Skylark,” to name one notable example), but he hasn’t ever made an album full of them, until now. The video above chronicles an outtake from his next release, Close Your Eyes, which arrives on Newvelle Records on June 15. It’s a version of the John Coltrane touchstone “Countdown,” repainted in gleaming streaks of silver by Loueke and his excellent partners, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland.

Newvelle Records releases its albums on vinyl, by subscription; sign up for the third season on its website. Through June 17, the label has a Father’s Day promotion on season one.

Angelika Niescier, Christopher Tordini & Tyshawn Sorey, “The Surge”

A Polish-born saxophonist based in Germany, where she enjoys a sterling reputation, Angelika Niescier is the sort of musician who can knock you back a step or two simply with her sound. Or to be more precise, it’s the intensity of her sound that carries the punch.

This is all abundantly clear throughout The Berlin Concert, Niescier’s new album on Intakt Records, featuring her superhuman trio with Christopher Tordini on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums. The degree of collective, in-the-moment intuition on this recording is stunning; listen here to the short piece that ended the concert, a startlingly detailed composition bearing an apt title, “The Surge.”

The Berlin Concert can be ordered on Bandcamp or at Intakt Records.

Chano Domínguez & Javier Colina, “You and the Night and the Music”

Pianist Chano Domínguez and bassist Javier Colina share deep cultural perspective, as musicians born and raised with flamenco as well as jazz, and committed to reconciling the two. Their recorded history together goes back to Domínguez’s 1992 debut, though they hadn’t played together in about 15 years when they got together for a club date a few years ago in Madrid.


Not long after that, they played the engagement documented on Chano & Colina, which has just been released on Sunnyside. The set list contains a blend of originals — like “Para Chick,” a Domínguez nod to Chick Corea — and standards by the likes of Paco de Lucía and Michel Legrand. Even when they interpret a chestnut like “You and the Night and the Music,” a Broadway warhorse from the 1930s, their arrangement teases out a flamenco cadence, with Javier’s bass doing as much as Chano’s piano to trace the melodic theme.

The Chano Domínguez Trio performs on June 26 at the Highline Ballroom, as part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival.

Michael Franks, “Bebop Headshop”

A singer-songwriter with a knack for making any sentiment go down easy, Michael Franks is now celebrating 45 years since the release of his self-titled debut. The Music in My Head, releasing on Shanachie this Friday, is a typically eclectic effort, full of playful wordplay and breezy sophistication. On “Bebop Headshop,” Franks even reminisces about frequenting a jazz club near Hermosa Beach in the 1960s — the Lighthouse Café, perhaps? — and soaking in the private lexicon of the beboppers. “Nothing could compare with all the crazy things they’d say,” he sings, “Saxophonally.” The Music in My Head features contributions from the late guitarist Chuck Loeb, a longtime collaborator, the keyboardist Rachel Z and the saxophonists Eric Marienthal, Bob Mintzer and Gary Meek. (Preorder at Amazon.)