Geoffrey Keezer joins SNJO on tour

Written by | Concerts, News

Grammy-winning pianist-composer Geoffrey Keezer joins the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra on a three-date Scottish tour from 29th September to 1st October, with concerts in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

Under the banner of The Art of Arranging, Keezer will guide the Orchestra through his unique, new treatments of jazz classics by saxophonists Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter as well as specially reimagined arrangements of Keezer’s own award-winning compositions.

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO) is a renowned contemporary big band in the UK, founded and directed by saxophonist Tommy Smith in 1995. The orchestra is celebrated for its versatility, discipline, and expressive artistry. Over the past two decades, SNJO has had the privilege of collaborating with prominent figures in the global jazz scene, such as Gary Burton, Arild Andersen, Branford Marsalis, Joe Locke, Makoto Ozone, Mike Stern, and Kurt Elling, creating a diverse and impressive body of work.

Their repertoire spans across jazz legends like Basie, Mingus, Monk, Miles Davis, and Coltrane, offering fresh interpretations of their compositions. Additionally, the SNJO has ventured into the works of classical greats such as Gershwin, Mozart, and Duke Ellington, showcasing their versatility and dedication to exploring the rich landscape of jazz and beyond.

SNJO founder and artistic director, saxophonist Tommy Smith is excited to be working again with Wisconsin-born Keezer, who has contributed to over a dozen of the Orchestra’s projects and recordings over the past twenty years.

“Geoffrey is one of the world’s most gifted, most sought-after musicians and composers,” says Smith. “He has worked with true jazz legends including drummer and renowned talent scout Art Blakey, who led one of jazz’s most revered bands, the Jazz Messengers, from the 1950s through to the 1980s. His talent has also been recognised in the pop arena through touring with Sting, who described him as a superb technician and improviser, a musician’s musician.”

A former child prodigy, Keezer began playing professionally in his teens and was just eighteen when he joined Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. He went on to work with Ray Brown (the bassist for Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson), trumpeter Art Farmer, singer-pianist Diana Krall, and saxophonists Benny Golson, Wayne Shorter, Joshua Redman and David Sanborn. His own recordings, including his Grammy-winning album, Refuge, have embraced mainstream jazz, funk, blues and gospel music.

“Geoffrey’s appreciation and understanding of music are huge,” says Tommy Smith. “He has delivered superbly sensitive arrangements for us of pieces by composers and songwriters from Henry Mancini and Leonard Bernstein to Robert Burns and although I thought his strength lay in ballads, his reimagining of bass guitar revolutionary Jaco Pastorious’ animated Teen Town was strikingly effervescent. We’re looking forward immensely to welcoming him back to Scotland.”

Geoffrey Keezer appears with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Friday 29th September; Queen’s Cross Church, Aberdeen on Saturday 30th September; and Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on Sunday 1st October.

More information and ticket links are available here on the SNJO website.

Last modified: September 12, 2023