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Joe Locke

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Biography of Joe Locke

Joe Locke is regarded by many to be the most gifted vibraphonist of his generation. In addition to his strengths as an instrumentalist, the recent recordings and live performances by the Joe Locke & Geoffrey Keezer Quartet, the Milt Jackson Tribute Band and his group "4 Walls of Freedom", offer evidence of his ever-growing stature as a band leader, composer and conceptualist.

The critical community continually cites Joe Locke for his artistic work. "There seems little doubt that Locke, with his ability to play cool and funky, heady and relaxed, is set to become the pre-eminent vibraphonist in jazz." (The Times, London) Joe has been voted the #1 vibist in DownBeat Magazine's Critic's Poll (TDWR) and Brazil's International Jazz Poll. Locke has recorded 20 cds as a band leader, including the critically acclaimed "Moment to Moment", a tribute to the music of Henry Mancini. As producer and as a sideman, he appears on more than 65 recordings.

As a jazz musician, Locke was precocious, having played with such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Pepper Adams and Mongo Santamaria before he was even out of high school. Since moving to New York City in 1981, Joe has performed with Grover Washington Jr., Kenny Barron, Dianne Reeves, Eddie Daniels, Jerry Gonzales' Fort Apache Band, Rod Stewart, The Beastie Boys, Eddie Henderson, Hiram Bullock, Bob Berg, Ron Carter, Jimmie Scott, Geoffrey Keezer, The Mingus Big Band and Randy Brecker, among many others. Joe has toured extensively throughout the world, both as leader and guest soloist. Some highlights include a 16 city tour of Russia, which culminated in a concert with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of world-renowned violist, Yuri Bashmet; a 30 city tour of all major capitals of Europe, performing Charles Mingus' magnum opus, "Epitaph" as a featured soloist under the direction of distinguished conductor, Gunther Schuller; a series of volcanic duet concerts in Italy with pianist Cecil Taylor, where Joe went head-to-head for three nights with the undisputed high priest of the avante-garde.

The past years have been busy for Locke. Besides his work with the Locke/Keezer Quartet, the Milt Jackson Tribute Band and 4 Walls of Freedom, he premiered new music as part of a Duo Project with fellow vibes and marimba artist Christos Rafalides. Joe was a guest soloist with the Jeff "Tain" Watts expanded ensemble for 3 nights at Lincoln Center's Stanley Kaplan Penthouse, and performed a 3 night engagement in duo with piano master John Hicks, also at the Penthouse. Another highlight for Locke was a week-long engagement at the Village Vanguard in NYC, playing alongside Al Foster and Buster Williams, as a member of the Renee Rosnes Quartet, performing original music by this brilliant pianist/ composer. Locke's recent recording "Rev.elation" with the Milt Jackson Tribute Band remained on top of the Jazz Week album charts for an unprecedented 8 week run in 2005.

While maintaining a busy touring schedule, Locke also found time to work with students. A concert in Rochester, NY with the School of the Arts jazz ensemble (through The Commission Project) proved to be a memorable and rewarding experience. "I worked with the students for several weeks leading up to the concert, and real friendships were forged in that time. The name of the event was Pass it On! - the implication of the title being that I was passing on my knowledge and experience to a new generation of musicians. But it was such a mutual exchange... I learned as much from them as they did from me. The experience put me back in touch with one of the reasons I fell in love with music in the first place, namely, the sense of community that comes from creating something with others."

Born in Palo Alto, California, but raised in Rochester, N.Y., Locke is a self-taught improviser, though he benefited from his early studies in classical percussion and composition at the Eastman School of Music with Gordon Stout, Ted Moore and David Mancini.

Joe Locke has released more than 20 recordings as a band leader, and appeared on over 100 albums as a guest artist. He endorses vanderPlas Vibraphones and plays the Joe Locke Autograph Mallet (PJL) by Pro-Mark.

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