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  Eighty Eights -
  The New Sound Quartet: Summertime

The New Sound Quartet
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Review by miguelito54 November 16, 2007 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The second CD of the fruitful collaboration of vibraphonist Joe Locke and pianist Geoffrey Keezer starts with one of the modern classical pieces adopted most often by jazz musicians: the 2nd adagio movement of Joaquin Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. Again, comparisons with the legendary Modern Jazz Quartet are inevitable, especially as the MJQ recorded this piece twice - but Locke and Keezer present it as a simple, beautifully played duo, sticking true to the melody, with some improvisory touches only at the end. Locke's tone and touch are the greatest on the current scene, and the high resolution DSD recording reproduces it immaculately.
But this serves only as an introduction to the procedings: before one can ask why nobody ever plays the other movements of the Concierto, the bassist (Robert Hurst) and drummer (Billy Kilson, not the groups regular drummer, on request of the label) set up a funky latinized beat for a lively Keezer original, "Captain Jon", with an energetic Kilson solo following the composer - Keezer's faster tunes are always rhythmically inspiring.
The next tune, Locke's "Snowfall in Central Park", introduces the disc's special guest, Eddie Henderson, who adds his beautiful tone on the fluegelhorn to a nice impressionistic piece, which has Locke showing his touch on the marimba is just as delicate, but fades out over some minimalistic groove with Henderson blowing on top - good ideas but a little weak on the arrangement's side.
Next is the title track, a clever arrangement on the Gershwin warhorse by Keezer, I would suppose - great riffs, and one of Keezer's trademarks, dampening the piano strings with the left hand to get a prepared piano sound during a nice exchange with the bassist - one of the high points of the disc.
Next is a perfect rendition of the standard "Blame it on my youth" - a rather straight reading; the MJQ didn't sound quite as beautiful but had a more individual touch in such tunes.
The MJQ also played Monk's "'Round Midnight", but this is another inventive Keezer arrangement far removed from familiar grooves: a faster tempo, but the chords spread over double length, inspiring Locke to a great marimba solo, or rather a duo with Keezer, who is really great at interacting with mallet players. He then contributes a short piano solo that is the most original improvisation over these familiar changes I have heard in decades - he could have stretched out more, for my taste.
Another Keezer original, "Port Alexander Moon", follows, a kind of jazz waltz with nice chord changes and Eddie Henderson playing the melody. After Robert Hurst, who is in fine form throughout, Henderson solos with Hubbard-type phrases in a Milesian tone, then Keezer, before they take it out with a shortened theme. Next is Locke's "Last Ditch Wisdom", a tune reminiscent of the Bobby Hutcherson album with Chick Corea, with solos over a fast walking bass. Kilson does his best to heat things up. Keezer responds with his best solo on the disc, taking the Chick Corea lineage of modern piano to some new places before all three comp behind a short Kilson solo. A solo piano version of "Bibo No Aozora" by Japanese star composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, a tune Keezer loves to play, closes the disc.
If the label lets the band record another disc, they should let them stretch out on their own a little more - this band, especially Keezer, has more than enough good ideas. Like the Modern Jazz Quartet they seem to strive for a perfect balance of arrangement and improvisation, but they shouldn't hold back their fire that much. If you want to hear what they really can do, check out their next CD "Live in Seattle" on Origin Records.
The sound of this disc is perfect - clear, direct and dynamic, the colors of the mallet instruments are warm and glowing.

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Review by Barb November 18, 2007 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
J. Locke vibes & marimba, G. Keezer p, R. Hurst b, B. Kilson ds, E. Henderson tp & flh, Eighty-Eights 2005.
It starts with the Concierto De Aranjuez, contains four originals by Locke or Keezer, three well known standards and a beautiful ballad I didn`t know (Bibo No Aozora). I was a bit sceptical about the combination of piano and vibes, but here it works. The recording is that good, the higher regions of both instruments keep discriminated and do not melt together as it often does on recordings that are worse. On Snowfall In Central Park and Port Alexander Moon Henderson joins and gives the music another colour which is good diversity. The band is playing contemporary jazz, some tracks very energetic (even Summertime), Billy Kilson is a monster sometimes, some emotional ballads that are very beautiful with the warm sound of the vibes. The guys interact perfectly and play some great solos on a disc with differing moods that is very entertaining. This is jazz for listening and I`m sure, you will keep attention.
The sound is very good, rich of colour, very good soundstage and imaging, air for the instruments to breath, very dynamic, brilliant.

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