Geoffrey Keezer & Gillian Margot
The Verdict, Brighton
Monday 5th June 2017
Beginning with a masterclass, in association with Brighton Jazz School (of which Keezer is a patron), husband and wife team Geoffrey Keezer and Gillian Margot answered questions from the audience that covered everything from musical empathy, rubato, introductions, rhythm, song choice and solo improvisations.
Between them they have decades of experience in music, Keezer being a former Jazz Messenger in his youth before launching a solo career and more recently performing in Storms/Nocturne with Joe Locke and Tim Garland. Likewise, Gillian Margot is a classically-trained vocalist capable of singing in a myriad of different styles.
With that in mind, the gig later in the evening was something to look forward to. Beginning with solo piano, Keezer illustrated how to take a simple pop song and make it your own, using David Bowie’s Life on Mars as a vehicle for extended techniques and reharmonisations.
After being joined by Gillian Margot, Keezer launched into a co-composed original, followed by the title of Keezer’s forthcoming album On My Way To You.
Margot’s rich low register was well-suited to the choice of repertoire, especially on a swinging I Didn’t Know What Time It Was which incorporated stride piano, Art Tatum-style virtuosity and Keezer’s trademark grooving left-hand to accompany Margot’s fluent scat soloing.
This was followed by their interpretation of Simply Red’s Holding Back The Years, from Margot’s most recent album.
Performing a single set of around one hour and twenty minutes, they ended with the ballad The First Time (Ever I Saw Your Face) made famous by one of Margot’s role models, Roberta Flack.
Overall, whilst Gillian Margot is highly proficient and a very gifted singer, her style tends to lean towards the more soulful, in contrast with the jaw-dropping virtuosity of straight-ahead jazz pianist Keezer.
Geoffrey Keezer, piano; Gillian Margot, vocals.
Photo: Rachel Zhang