Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group
(Pizza Express Dean Street. 30th September. First night of two. Review by Sebastian Scotney)
"The American,” said John F Kennedy (somewhere), “by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly." 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.
What stays in the mind is the go-for-it, chocks-away exuberance of this band, with Mike Pope propelling it from way down on his Fodera electric bass. The title track from the group's new CD Signing (2012, Motema) closed the first set. It is one of those tunes built on a hit-it-and-leave-to-resonate phrase – British pianist Kate Williams dos that kind of tune particularly well - which left room for drummer Terreon Gully to produce what Tom Gray in his review of the album for us called "restlessly inventive responsiveness and his deft way with pulling apart the meter." There was also space for Gully to shine and animate in the second half closer, the dazzling Darth Alexis, a tune by Geoff Keezer.
Joe Locke explained some of the personal significance of the album. "Signing" means showing yourself for who you are, searching for individuality and beauty rather than perfection in music. Communicating through music, "feeling less alone. And what remains is that this music is the sheer spirit and fire in it. People under the cosh of Osborne's recession are bound to find that this group will lift the spirits.
They're on again tonight. BOOKINGS.