Geoffrey Keezer was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on November 20, 1970 to music teachers. He began studying piano at the age of three and by 1989 at 18, after one year of study at Berklee College of Music he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.
His professional career has spanned many projects and genres such as performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, composing commissioned pieces for the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Saint Joseph Ballet, Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and the Nancy Zeltsman Marimba Festival all while releasing a dozen albums as a leader and touring.
Geoffrey has received the Chamber Music America’s 2007 New Works grant, has appeared as a sideman on countless recording sessions, has played bass in a rock band, contributed artwork to David W. Mack’s comic “Kabuki”, and has performed with world-class musicians Joshua Redman, Diana Krall, Christian McBride, Barbara Hendricks, Kenny Barron, Chick Corea, Benny Green, Joe Locke and Mulgrew Miller.
Keezer’s “Live in Seattle”, a collaboration with vibes player Joe Locke, won the Golden EarShot Award for “Concert of the Year” and his latest musical adventure, Áurea, is a Grammy nominated, multinational Afro-Peruvian jazz recording featuring the hottest players from New York City and Lima, Peru. In 2013 he released his latest solo project Heart Of The Piano, continues to lend his talents to educate at such institutions of higher learning as the New School, the Brubeck Institute, Indiana University, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and others, all while continuing to arrange, perform, record and tour both as a leader and sideman.
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Clairdee was born on November 19th in Tucson, Arizona but was raised in Denver, Colorado. She grew up harmonizing and dancing with her sisters and brothers in a show biz minded family, taking to improvising naturally. She formed a four-part vocal group in high school, but it wasn’t until after college that she focused on jazz.
She listened and learned from pioneering jazz vocalists such as Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter but it was veteran Hammond B3 organist William “Big Daddy” Sailes who took her under his wing and taught her a repertoire of standards and how to develop arrangements to suit her voice.
Moving to the Bay Area in 1986, Clairdee performed various styles of music over the next decade but by the mid 90s settled into jazz working with Eddie Henderson, John Handy, Roland Hanna and Allen Farnham.
Influenced by Shirley Horn, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Johnny Hartman, Billy Eckstine and Nat King Cole she developed a style that made each song she interprets hers, allowing her to stir an emotion. As an educator she conducts master classes around the country and continues to perform and record.
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Sheila Jordan was born Sheila Jeanette Dawson on November 18, 1928 in Detroit, Michigan but grew up in Summerhill, Pennsylvania. By the age of 28 she returned to Detroit and began playing piano and singing semi-professionally in jazz clubs. She worked a trio that composed lyrics to Charlie Parker’s arrangements, who influenced her greatly.
In 1951, she moved to New York and started studying harmony and music theory with Lennie Tristano and Charles Mingus and married pianist Duke Jordan a year later. By the 60s she was gigging and doing session work in Greenwich Village and around town in various clubs; and in 1962 was discovered and recorded by George Russell on his album The Outer View. That led to her recording Portrait of Sheila in 1962 that was sold to Blue Note.
Over the next decade Sheila withdrew from music, supported herself as a legal secretary but by the mid 70s was working again with musicians like Don Heckman, Roswell Rudd, Lee Konitz and Steve Kuhn. She has had a notable career as a solo artist since then with her ability to improvise entire lyrics, although success has been limited.
Jordan has been an Artist In Residence teaching at City College, worked in an advertising agency, recorded for Steeplechase, ECM, Home Eastwind, Grapevine, Palo Alto, Blackhawk and Muse record labels. She has performed and recorded with George Gruntz, Steve Swallow, Carla Bley Harvie Swartz and Bob Moses among others and as a songwriter continues to work in both bebop and free jazz mediums.
Julie Lyon was born on November 17, 1969 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin but grew up in Florida where she studied classical voice and received her degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Central Florida.
After college Julie started her musical career singing with different Top-40, Rock, Blues and Country bands until meeting her husband, drummer Tom Cabrera, and then turned to jazz.
Following her passion Lyon has recorded two albums, “Beginning To See The Light” and “ Live: Between Then And Now” and has since become a regular on the Park Avenue scene in Winter Park. An Orlando area staple, she performs regularly at Club Swank, Harvey’s Bistro, Fiddlers Green and The Citrus Club among others.
Pulling up stakes she moved with her husband to New York and continues to perform with her quartet/quintet in jazz clubs and appear at annual festivals. The vocalist and lyricist also composes, arranges and improvises her style through her original and standard catalogue of music.
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Dolo Coker was born Charles Mitchell Coker on November 16, 1927 in Hartford, Connecticut but was raised in Florence, South Carolina and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The first musical instruments Coker played in childhood were the C-melody and alto saxophones, learning them at a school. By age thirteen he was starting to play piano and after moving to Philadelphia he studied piano at the Landis School of Music and at Orenstein’s Conservatory.
During his Philadelphia years Coker played piano with Jimmy Heath, then became a member of Frank Morgan’s quartet, but it wasn’t until 1976 that he recorded as a leader. Signing with Xanadu Records he cut four albums and worked extensively as a sideman for Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Lou Donaldson, Art Pepper, Philly Joe Jones and Dexter Gordon.
For the next several years pianist Dolo Coker continued to work as a sideman until he passed away of cancer at the age of fifty-five on April 13, 1983.
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