If you've ever heard flumpeter Art Farmer, you probably don't need encouragement to go hear him again: he still concocts ballad improvisations that seem to have arrived airmail from heaven, and he once again strolls the bebop boulevards at the brisk tempos of his youth. (The "flumpet," by the way, is an unfortunately named hybrid of the trumpet and the mellower flugelhorn.) But the presence of Geoff Keezer serves as an additional blandishment. Not yet 24, Keezer may well be the best pianist you never heard of, and not just in terms of flashy counterpoint or finger-busting precision. His solos have a sense of purpose and a command of structure that make each improvisation sound truly (if spontaneously) composed. He draws some striking tonalities from the keyboard by using simple techniques at perfect moments--such as pedaling a straightforward right-hand figure into an echoing hall of mirrors--and he knows how to add by subtraction, using two-note chords in the left hand to etch his accompaniment more sharply than he could with a more "modern" cluster. If you listen hard, you can hear where he's drawn on the standard models of contemporary piano--Jarrett, Tyner, Hancock--but these influences rarely announce their presence because Keezer has so successfully folded them into his own voice. (Yet on his 1992 CD Here and Now, Keezer offered an homage to the busy pyrotechnics of Art Tatum and showed a scarily assured command of that style for its own sake.) Hear him now, so you can say you heard him when. Tuesday through next Sunday, July 24, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4846. Tuesday night serves as an album-release party for Farmer's Arabesque CD, The Company I Keep.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Nancy Ellison, Cheung Ching Ming.