E.C. Native Keezer Honored on ‘Music’s Biggest Night’

jazz pianist wins Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition

Tom Giffey

The Grammy Awards were a big night for some big names in music: Beyonce. Taylor Swift. Harry Styles. Geoffrey Keezer.

Sure, Keezer – the Eau Claire native and jazz pianist – may have the pop-star name recognition of the others on this list, but he joined them Sunday night by earning a very special distinction: Grammy winner.

Keezer won his first-ever Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition for “Refuge,” a track on his album Playdate, which was released last year. Playdate was the 23rd album from Keezer, and the fourth time he’d been nominated for a Grammy (previously he received two nods for Best Arrangement for Instruments and Vocals and one for Best Latin Jazz Album).

While he now lives in New York after 18 years in Southern California, Keezer grew up in Eau Claire and graduated from Memorial High School (about a decade before another local Grammy winner, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver).

Keezer gave a short post-ceremony interview Sunday:

“Refuge” has more to connect it to the Chippewa Valley than Keezer himself: According to an October interview with Downbeat magazine, the tune “contains thematic material from a piano concerto he composed in 2000 for his hometown symphony orchestra in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. That orchestra included his mother, Mary, a professional French horn player, and his father, Ronald” – a gifted drummer and professor emeritus at UW-Eau Claire. (Sadly, both of Keezer’s parents passed away in 2020.)

The elder Keezer, Geoffrey Keezer told Downbeat, “set the bar high for me.” “I overdubbed the French horn four times, as a nod to my mom,” he said. “I also was inspired by the strings Alice Coltrane wrote for Infinity, which I always considered a beautiful work.”

Learn more about Keezer and his album, including how to purchase it, at


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