Locke and Keezer have assembled one of the most exciting live performance groups in jazz, whose undeniable virtuosity shines brilliantly on this live in studio recording.
New release on Motéma Music: The unique combination of vibraphone and piano creates a space much larger than the sum of its parts -- one in which these four brilliant improvisers can really get down to work.
The Joe Locke /Geoffrey Keezer Group is a powerhouse of a band. Since both musicians had independent, well-established careers before teaming up, their names vie for top billing.
|Jul 07||USA: Reno, NV||Artown Festival|
|Jul 08||USA: Half Moon Bay, CA||Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society|
|Sep 29||IRELAND: Limerick||Limerick Jazz Festival: Lime Tree Theatre|
|Sept 30||GB: London||Pizza Express Jazz Club|
|Oct 01||GB: London||Pizza Express Jazz Club|
|Nov 02||USA: Austin, TX||PASIC 2012|
|USA: Columbia, MO||'We Always Swing' Jazz Series|
Further concert appearances are currently being confirmed. Please contact us here for booking enquiries.
"This gig from the recently re-united vibes and piano quartet was an uplifting experience. [...] Locke and Keezer are fluent, expressive technicians whose mutual support is founded on a long history of joint projects." – Mike Hobart — Oct, 2012 — read full article
"[...] That positive, assertive side of being (all-) Americans shone through both of last night's sets at Pizza Express from the Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group, as each of the sets from this group co-led by the master vibraphonist and the endlessly inventive and resourceful pianist built towards its infectiously energetic closing number." – Sebastian Scotney — Oct, 2012 — read full article
"Here's one of these albums that stays in the mind for all the right reasons: great melodic content, interesting time signatures, and a sense of real connection between the musicians concerned." – John Adcock — Sep, 2012 — read full article
"Locke is on top form, hovering sinuously on a ballad one moment, reeling off lines with four-mallet precision the next." – Mike Hobart — August, 2012 — read full article
"Love this album for its vitality, imagination and pure pleasing sounds!" – Nancy Ann Lee — August, 2012 — read full article
"... when Locke’s vibes combine with Keezer’s keys, the resulting sound is something totally next-level and indescribably beautiful." – J Hunter — July 23, 2012 — read full article
"Signing stands as an extraordinary traverse of music—a reminder, for even the most jaded and cynical, of the undiluted joys of music making." – Seton Hawkins — July 9, 2012 — read full article
"The Joe Locke/Geoffrey Keezer Group is a perfect match, balancing the wide musical interests of two leaders who are also formidable composers and performers. [...] While Joe Locke and Geoff Keezer both lead individual groups of their own, the occasional opportunity for them to join forces is guaranteed to produce memorable music." – Ken Dryden — June, 2012 — read full article
"It’s the kind of thing that makes me want to just play the entire album all over again..." – June, 2012 — read full article
"Their condensed solos cram in an array of ideas, building from bluesy musings to mesmerising vortices that rip through the upper registers of their instruments." – Tom Gray — June, 2012 — read full article
"The special hook-up between vibraphonist Joe Locke and pianist Geoffrey Keezer is based on shared assets like chops, listening skills and a gift for communicating the joy of making music. [...] Locke/Keezer can make complex material sound suave and tricky time signatures flow." – Thomas Conrad — June, 2012 — read full article
"The elegance injected with a spiritual groove belongs uniquely to the Joe Locke/Geoffrey Keezer Group." – Andrea Canter — May 15th, 2012 — read full article
"wrapped up beautifully in a mode that makes for one of the best records from either player in a number of years!" – May 2012 — read full article
"[...] the Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer group of the new CD 'Signing' is an electric group that makes music that’s rich in content but melodically direct, frequently virtuosic and always in the service of the song." – Peter Hum — May 15th, 2012 — read full article
"[...] powered by the mighty Gully and underpinned by Pope's burbling and thick-toned bass, the music soars and swoops, at times stopping to take its musical breath with melodic ballads such as their version of Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek." Keezer's piano work is full of melody, rhythmically sharp, with delightful solos and intelligent accompaniment." – Richard B Kumins — May 14th, 2012 — read full article
"If you want to hear the beauty and power of what happens when a group of solid musical talents can do when they connect, this is a recording you should check out ." – TheJazzPages— May 4th, 2012 — read full article
Wayne McConnell presents "Signing" as album of the week in his podcast and speaks at length with Joe about his career, approach to selecting music, improvising, emotional mindset when playing ballads, "Signing" and this very special Group.
Wayne McConnell — May 4, 2012 —
"Joe Locke's vibes, and some great work on Fender Rhodes and piano from Geoffrey Keezer – wrapped up beautifully in a mode that makes for one of the best records from either player in a number of years!" – JazzChill — May 3rd, 2012 — read full article
"There’s a certain magical alchemy when a talented vibes player and a pianist combine the crystalline sound of their respective instruments..." – Dan Bilawsky — April 30, 2012 — read full article
"The music that Locke and Keezer create can be alternately potent and powerful or peaceful and poetic, but it's never less than enthralling. [...] Pope's electric bass work can serve as a grounding force, melodic instrument, textural element or impressive solo voice, while Gully is a powerful rhythmic visionary who stokes the flames of this music at every turn. When they mix with Locke and Keezer, the resultant music projects an anything-is-possible policy. This music can be explosive, earthy, driven, touching or terrifying, but, most importantly, it's always unpredictable." – Dan Bilawsky — April 11, 2012 — read full article
"[...] This group, on the other hand (this is its second album), lives up to the true definition of “fusion” by fusing some of the sound of ‘70s electronic jazz-rock (Fender Rhodes piano, electric bass, hard backbeats, anthemic melodies) with the sort of serpentine harmonic progressions and complex metrical devices that dominate serious jazz in the 21st century." – Steve Holtje — April 13, 2012 — read full article
"Locke (vibes) and Keezer (piano) join together again for yet another magical set of music." – Dave Sumner — April 11, 2012 — read full article
"In una carriera che sta passando da una tappa all'altra con regolarità crescente, l'ultimo decennio ha rappresentato una straordinaria crescita artistica del vibrafonista Joe Locke come compositore e leader." – March 29, 2012 — read full article
"Co-led by two of present-day jazz's more gifted artists...."Signing" is forward-thinking on one hand but also oh-so-steeped in that wonderful world of boppishness...[it] emphatically demonstrates Locke's and Keezer's ability to look both ways almost simultaneously." – Jon Poses — March 18, 2012 — read full article
The 2005 Earshot Award winning album "Live In Seattle" is available in CD and digital formats.
"Arranging to record a concert always creates the hope for one of those special performances where everything gels perfectly. Live in Seattle captures the Locke/Keezer Group on one such occasion, finally realizing the fully contemporary potential of this ongoing collaboration." (John Kelman, AllAboutJazz)
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Click the photos for artist biographies.
Joe Locke is widely considered to be one of the major voices of his instrument. He has performed and recorded with a diverse range of notable musicians, including Grover Washington Jr, Kenny Barron, Eddie Henderson, Cecil Taylor, Dianne Reeves, Ron Carter, The Beastie Boys, the Munster Symphony Orchestra and the Lincoln, Nebraska Symphony.
Long known to be a soloist capable of stunning physical power and broad emotional range, it was not until the last decade that he emerged as the composer, band leader and conceptualist that he is considered today. This is in no small part due to his recent solo projects. "Four Walls of Freedom" (Sirocco), a 6 movement suite based on the writing of the monk Thomas Merton, which he composed as a vehicle for tenor saxophonist Bob Berg, garnered high praise from the critical community as a major work and won several international polls. "Live in Seattle" (Origin), by the Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group, won the 2006 Ear Shot award for "Concert of the Year". This group is well loved and emulated by younger musicians looking for direction and inspiration. The overwhelming success of his most recent quartet, "Force of Four" (Origin), can be attributed to the talents of his young cohorts and to the leader's musical philosophy, which is to honor tradition while keeping both feet planted in the present and future. His latest release, the captivating, immersive album "VIA", is the result of a reunion of Storms/Nocturnes, the transatlantic trio with Geoffrey Keezer and Tim Garland. At this writing, he is preparing to release his first recorded symphonic project, with arrangements by Ryan Cohan and Tim Garland.
Locke has won numerous awards and polls, including the 2006, 2008 and 2009 "Mallet Player of the Year" award from the Jazz Journalists Association. He is active as a clinician / educator and has been the International Vibraphone Consultant at the Royal Academy of Music, London, on a visiting basis since 2008, as well as being a faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.
Geoffrey Keezer joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers at the age of 18, after completing his first year at Berklee College of Music. Since then, he has worked with virtually all living legends of jazz and has appeared on countless recordings both as a leader and as an accompanist.
In addition to his 11 solo releases and constant touring, Geoffrey has also had compositions commissioned by the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. He was a recipient of Chamber Music America’s 2007 New Works grant.
Geoffrey continues to work in partnership with world class musicians from all genres. "Sublime: Honoring the Music of Hank Jones" from 2003 was an ambitious set of piano duets with Kenny Barron, Chick Corea, Benny Green and Mulgrew Miller. His 2005 release, "Wildcrafted", captures the fire and raw energy of Geoffrey’s trio live in concert at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. In 2006 he teamed up with traditional Okinawan singer Yasukatsu Oshima for a groundbreaking album of duets. His Afro-Peruvian CD ÁUREA, a groundbreaking recording of folkloric South American music mixed with Jazz, was nominated for a 2009 GRAMMY award in the "Best Latin Jazz Album" category, and has received a 2010 Grammy nomination for his collaboration with singer Denise Donatelli.
Musician extraordinaire, Terreon Gully is one of the most influential artists of his generation. Widely recognized for his creativity, versatility and authenticity, Terreon is in high demand. His innovative and distinctive sound has inspired artists such Dianne Reeves, Christian McBride as well as Stefon Harris to make him a member of their bands.
Terreon has mastered a variety of musical genres and settings. He performs, tours and records extensively with a variety of artists. From jazz legends and modern masters to the hottest hip hop icons, Terreon has worked with the best: Kurt Elling, David Sanborn, Nicholas Payton, Kenny Barron, the Benny Green Trio, Queen Latifa, Yerba Buena, Charlie Hunter, Abbey Lincoln, Marc Cary, Russell Gunn, Lizz Wright, Jacky Terrasson, Eldar, Me’Shell NdegeOcello, Lauryn Hill and Common as well as a host of other artists. In addition to live performances, Terreon is also known for his exceptional work in the studio, recording for albums, films, and commercials.
Originally from East St. Louis, Illinois, Terreon refined his musical talent in New York City, after completing college at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas. He has also served as a Professor of Music at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Currently, Terreon makes Atlanta, Georgia, his home, where he continues to enhance and develop his artistry.
Mike Pope was born in 1970 and grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio to the sound of the piano. Both parents, Ann and David, are highly accomplished classical pianists. Though classical music was their idiom of choice, jazz was played a lot in the house. The sounds of Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Monty Alexander, and many other major jazz artists made regular appearances on the playlist. Mike picked up bass at age 11 at the urging of his guitar-player/drummer brother Dave. After several years of education, both in school and in the field, Mike moved to NYC. There he made an appearance on the scene and started playing with Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Joe Locke, and other fixtures of the NY jazz culture.
Astute on both electric and acoustic bass, Mike made rounds with a lot of different kinds of music, playing with musicians including the Manhattan Transfer, Al DiMeola, The Chick Corea Elektric band, Mike Stern, Blood Sweat and Tears, and, of course, Joe Locke.
In the summer of 2005, Mike got a call from Geoffrey Keezer, who was about to go on tour with David Sanborn, asking him to join them. That fall, they did just that, along with drummer Terreon “Tank” Gully. In the midst of that tour, they stole a few days and recorded the first Locke-Keezer record, “Live in Seattle”, which is a live recording of an award-winning concert at the Ballard Jazz Festival.
Mike now lives in Maryland with his wife and 2 children. He continues to play and tour, and runs a recording studio out of his house, where the latest Locke-Keezer project was recorded.
In a career moving from one milestone to the next with accelerating regularity, the past decade has represented particularly extraordinary artistic growth for vibraphonist Joe Locke as a composer and leader. Beginning in 2001 with the Storms/Nocturnes trio collaboration with Geoffrey Keezer and Tim Garland, and moving forward with projects under his own leadership – ranging from Four Walls of Freedom and the Milt Jackson tribute, to the more recent Force of Four – Locke's deep understanding of the jazz tradition, married with a profound and unrelenting modernism, has established him as the most multi-dimensional vibraphonist of his generation, and also as one of the most imaginative, lyrical and emotionally arresting leader/composers in today’s jazz arena.
With the release of The Joe Locke /Geoffrey Keezer Group’s ‘Signing’, the much in demand follow-up to their ‘Live in Seattle’ (Earshot Awards’ ‘Best live performance of 2006’), Locke's career is set to kick into yet a higher gear as he simultaneously forges a new relationship with the forward-thinking Motéma imprint. The award-winning artist and the award-winning label plan a strategic collaboration in the coming year and a half to release a series of three Locke projects, each designed to demonstrate a different facet of his unerring lyricism, unfettered imagination, and show-stopping virtuosity.“
'Signing' is Locke’s quintessential choice to kick-start his new relationship with Motéma. "I had a lot of different projects fleshed out in my mind, but I knew The Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group had to be first out of the block because I feel that what we do really defines who I am musically" explains Locke. "I love doing all kinds of other things, but with The Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group I feel like there are no qualifications; if I could be doing anything it would be this."
After successfully touring in support of 'Live in Seattle', the foursome of Locke, pianist Geoffrey Keezer (Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Jim Hall, Christian McBride), bassist Mike Pope (David Sanborn, Chick Corea) and drummer Terreon "Tank" Gully (Dianne Reeves, Christian McBride, Kurt Elling) went on to other artistic projects but, as the vibraphonist explains, "I'd always had it in the back of my mind that we needed to continue."
'Signing' finds the reunited group more mature, both individually and collectively, without losing any of the incendiary chemistry that defined its debut. "We haven’t played in a long time," says Gully, "but it speaks to the band's chemistry that the tracks on the record are almost exclusively first takes." Keezer agrees: "It felt like the band had been on tour for six months." Locke adds, "We didn’t rehearse because we all live in different cities, so we just came in, talked the tunes down in a cogent and coherent way, and recorded them. 'Signing' has that same 'this is a brand new experience' kind of immediacy; even though it's not a live record it has some of that energy because we were all in this 'Ok, here comes the unknown' space. We just went with it, and got the vibe straight away."
All the more remarkable when, from the opening title track - one of four Locke compositions - it becomes immediately clear that this is deep music, filled with underlying challenge and complexity, but never at the expense of lyricism and accessibility. Whether it's the undeniable grooves, or the melodies - which may float over a 13/8 figure, as they do on a rework of Locke's episodic Storms/Nocturnes piece, "Her Sanctuary," but remain singable just the same - 'Signing' makes an instant and lasting connection. "It's called 'Signing', because it's about the desire to make direct contact," Locke says. "Sometimes we fall short and we don’t find each other in the effort to communicate, but we're out there trying to be heard and trying to listen, sending signs. That’s what it's all about."
Working off the energy of an audience, live albums often burn with greater fire than studio dates, a pitfall 'Signing' manages to avoid. "There are three tunes where the tinderbox really gets ignited," says Locke, "like in the middle of the opening track, when Terreon steps out. Keezer's original, 'Darth Alexis,' also goes to some beautifully dramatic peaks, as does 'Her Sanctuary.' There's a lot of fire, but a lot of control as to when to pull it out and when to pull back."
This balance of controlled abandon is a perfect way to describe Locke's performance throughout, whether he's winding his way through the changes to a definitive rearrangement of John Coltrane's classic "Naima," or interacting with Keezer on the pianist's "Darth Alexis." It's that empathy, shared by Locke and Keezer, which positions them as the most emotionally arresting piano/vibes team since Chick Corea and Gary Burton.
"The Lost Lenore," one of the more compelling tracks from Storms/Nocturnes' eponymous 2001 release, is given a more visceral and urban treatment here, propelled by Gully and Pope's unshakable yet finessed groove. Two other ballads speak to a love of simplicity and directness shared amongst the group. Keezer's arrangement of Imogen Heap's "Hide And Seek" is surprisingly faithful to the original, yet the distinctive sound of the group brings a powerful wildcard to the mix. Locke's "This is Just to Say," based on a William Carlos Williams poem, ends the album on a consonant note. "In the song, I wanted to express the unadorned beauty and directness of the poem," Locke says. "Sometimes stating something simply is all you need to do, which ties back to the theme of this record."
Amidst everyone's stellar performances, Mike Pope stands out, perhaps, as Signing's biggest surprise, turning in a career-defining solo on "Terraces" and effortlessly dancing around Gully's time-shifting pulses on "Darth Alexis," focusing on electric bass on all but two tracks. "He's a triple threat," says Locke. "He also engineered and mixed the record, and did a fantastic job making sure that the voice of each instrument was faithfully and fully realized."
Locke is equally enthusiastic about Gully. "Terreon's contribution is amazing. Some younger drummers have told me that they consider him the daddy of a new movement in drumming, and the beats he puts on this record are really, really fresh. If it was another drummer, no matter how great, it would be a different record. Take the title track, for example. It's coming from hip hop and drum 'n' bass, but Tank's musical and rhythmic sophistication takes the tune to another level. He's able, at the drop of a hat, to turn everything upside down or sideways, and yet keep it in-the-pocket. His stamp is all over this record."
"I'm grateful that my creative juices are really flowing right now," Locke concludes. "Geoffrey and I both feel that 'Signing' is collectively our best recording to date, which is a lot to say, but really how we feel.” With this music that I’ve making with my kindred spirits in The Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group, and with the powerful wind at my back that I am feeling from Motéma now, I feel like the sky’s the limit and the best is yet to come!"
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