Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
After a recent listening of the Sackville compact disc For Phineas SKCD2—2041] by pianists Harold Mabern and Geoff Keezer, the editorial staff at JazzProfiles thought it might be fun to reprise its earlier feature on the late piano giant Phineas Newborn, Jr. which you’ll find in the left columnar or sidebar portion of the blog.
With the help of the crackerjack graphics team at CerraJazz
LTD and the ace production staff at StudioCerra,
we have also put together a video tribute to Phineas [pronounced “Fine As”]
that is located at the conclusion of these insert notes by John Norris, the
producer of the Sackville CD.
The tune is “For Carl,” bassist Leroy Vinnegar’s memorial to the late pianist, Carl Perkins. Phineas recorded it on The World of Piano Contemporary CD[Contemporary LP S-7600; OJCCD 175-2]:
© -John Norris, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
“FOR PHINEAS celebrates the legacy of creative artists who have left an indelible mark on the music. Nat Cole, Thad Jones, Phineas Newborn and Duke Pearson were consummate musicians but they also possessed the rarer ability of creating melodies which remain in the listener's mind.
HAROLD MABERN and GEOFF KEEZER give these tunes a unique, one time interpretation which emphasizes their qualities as well as illustrating the intuitive brilliance of the two pianists.
JAZZ is a dangerous path to tread. There are
few pre-ordained landmarks and success comes only to those who display a high
level of empathy, a mutual understanding of how the music should flow and the
imagination to instantaneously respond to each other's thought processes.
Music for two pianos was once a popular part of the
and American Vaudeville circuits, but its
aesthetics had nothing to do with the spontaneity of jazz. Just listen to
Ferrante & Teicher and Albert Ammons & Pete Johnson to comprehend the
difference. European Music Hall
The Boogie Woogie duo of Ammons & Johnson made a success of their collaboration in the 1940s, but there are duet recordings dating back to the twenties by jimmy Blythe & W.E. Burton, James P. Johnson & Fats Waller and Bennie Payne & Fats Waller. For a brief period Waller incorporated a two piano version of I Got Rhythm with Hank Duncan as part of his stage show.
Stanley Cowell's Piano Choir was considered experimental in the 1970s and required a great deal of formal organization, the same has been true for James Williams' Contemporary Piano Ensemble-The Key Players. But for the most part two piano collaborations have been infrequent, unrehearsed and often stimulating and provocative. There's space to only mention a few: Willie "The Lion" Smith & Don Ewell, Jay McShann & Ralph Sutton, Dick Hyman & Ralph Sutton, Tommy Flanagan & Hank Jones, Marian McPartland & John Lewis. The success of these partnerships is the similarity of their musical approach rather than the juxtaposition of opposites.
Harold Mabern and Geoff Keezer have a common musical vision. They have both been inspired by the breathtaking originality of
pianist Phineas Newborn who, in the 1950s,
came up with a dazzling fresh take on the "locked hand" concept used
previously in jazz by Milt Buckner, George Shearing and Red Garland. Memphis
HAROLD MABERN, of course, was there when Newborn was in his prime and took that inspiration with him when he left for
to begin a career which has included engagements with most of the
music's giants. He's now a Jazz Master whose depth of vision and life
experience makes him an instantly identifiable stylist. Chicago
GEOFF KEEZER came to this music by a different route. He was still in
, when he first heard Newborn via his
classic Contemporary recordings. Since he arrived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin , his career has been guided by James
Williams, who himself was an alumnus of Newborn's New York heritage. Keezer's phenomenal pianistic
vision encompasses many different horizons but he is a truly exciting "of
the moment" performer who is already fully capable of sitting shoulder to
shoulder with a Harold Mabern on equal terms. Memphis
No description of this music can replace the exhilaration of actually experiencing it. Fortunately, for us, the tape machine was rolling when Harold Mabern and Geoff Keezer took to the stage of Toronto's Montreal Bistro for these selections, which come from the second night of their performances together [January 25, 1995].
JOHN NORRIS - January 1996”
Harold takes the first solo beginning at minutes and Geoff’s solo follows at minutes.