Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

November/December 2010: Anat Cohen

Locke Box

Written by:

Joe Locke is one of the busiest vibraphonists on the scene today. I’ve known Locke since I moved to New York in the 90s, and he has been a good friend. I’ve been lucky to share the stage with him a few times. He is truly a dynamic performer—nobody has more chops or energy on the vibes, and Locke’s depth of musical knowledge is really staggering. My personal favourite albums of Locke’s include Live In Seattle (featuring pianist Geoffrey Keezer and drummer Terreon Gully, both of whom will be on the Asper stage) and Moment to Moment, which features the music of Henry Mancini. But he has many more—at least twenty CDs as a leader. Whether it be fusion, ballads, straight-ahead bebop, Latin, or movie themes, Locke can do it all. As well as Keezer and Gully, he’ll be joined here by singer Kenny Washington, with Steve Kirby holding down the bass. Do not miss the opportunity to see his band when they come to Winnipeg! – George Colligan

Joe Locke was nice enough to answer some of my questions…

Why the vibes?

When I was a kid I played drums and piano. I didn’t really want to become a pianist, with all the work that entailed, but I liked the idea of playing melodies. So when I discovered the vibes, it was the right fit for me—a percussion instrument I could play melodically.

What have been your favourite gigs?

There have been so many. Of course my twelve years in Eddie Henderson’s band was important to me. I have good memories of you and I playing together in that quintet! I also had some wonderful experiences working with Kenny Barron, George Cables, Walter Davis, Jr., Bob Moses, Cecil Taylor and John Hicks in their groups. I’m happy to say that some of my favorite gigs have been in recent years with different projects of my own.  My Four Walls of Freedom quartet with Bob Berg was very special to me.  My Force of Four quartet  and the chamber trio Storms/Nocturnes (with Geoffrey Keezer and Tim Garland) continue to inspire and challenge me in the best possible way.

Describe the trials and tribulations of being a bandleader in the new millennium.

For me, one of the difficult things is synchronizing the schedules of the busy musicians with whom I’m working. Making tour dates line up in a logical is always challenging. Considering the current economic climate in the world and the fact that live music seems to have less importance in the current culture, I consider myself very fortunate to be as busy as I am, engaged in creative work with great collaborators. The music business has always been tough. But I think the music itself is in great hands in the new millennium, with wonderful musicians coming along every day who are breaking new ground and giving a lot of beauty to the world.

What advice would you give a young musician?

Practice! If you really want to make music your life, put the work in now—it pays off later. The amount of knowledge you acquire and how much work you put in will serve you well when you try to break into the larger music scene. Once you feel ready, move to a place with an active music scene and put yourself in as many playing situations as possible.

How did you pick your current band?

My latest recording, For the Love of You, features vocalist Kenny Washington—we will be playing music from the new CD in Winnipeg. I was on vacation in San Francisco  a few years ago and heard Kenny sing for the first time. He blew me away! I think he is one of the greatest male vocalists to come along in quite some time. He has a beautiful voice, exquisite taste and a whole lot of soul. The pianist in the group is Geoffrey Keezer, with whom I’ve collaborated many times. Geoffrey started playing with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers when he was 17 years old, and has gone on to do some amazing things as a player, composer and band leader. The drummer will be the fantastic Terreon Gully, a musician who has already made an impact in Winnipeg. And I’m really looking forward to playing with bassist Steve Kirby for the first time. This is going to be a really fun concert!

Copyright! © 2023 dig! magazine.