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Sticks and Strings

Artist: Joe Locke

Date of Release: 01/11/2007

Catalogue no: jazzeyes003

Label: JazzEyes

Price: £9.99

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

listen

Time Like The Presence

6.23

2

listen

The Rosario Material

4.33

3

listen

Sword Of Whispers

7.42

4

listen

Terzani

7.46

5

listen

All Of You

9.30

6

listen

A Word Before You Go

8.19

7

listen

Appointment In Orvieto

5.07

8

listen

I Fall In Love Too Easily

5.02

9

listen

Sixth Sense

7.00

 

 

 

 

"Sticks and Strings" - The Joe Locke Quartet
featuring Joe Locke, Jay Anderson Joe LaBarbera, Jonanthan Kreisberg

Produced by Joe Locke
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Jay Anderson
recorded May 2007 at New Paltz, NY (USA)

 

Reviews

 

03/11/2007 John Kelman

Joe Locke has always struck that rare balance between reverence for things past and a forward-thinking mindset. Live in Seattle (Origin, 2006) brought a firm, modernistic edge to a set of original material by the vibraphonist and keyboardist/co-leader Geoffrey Keezer. Rev-elation (Sharp Nine, 2005), teaming Locke with the Milt Jackson Tribute Band, was steeped in the tradition, although Locke never lost sight of his personal extension of that tradition.

Sticks and Strings, featuring up-and-coming guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg alongside veteran bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Joe La Barbera, straddles the line better than any of Locke’s previous efforts, with contemporary treatments of two well-known standards augmenting a program of originals by Locke, Anderson and La Barbera. It proves that there needn’t be a dividing line between the old and the new, and that the best players look simultaneously backwards and forwards.

The lengthy credentials of Locke, Anderson and La Barbera make their bi-directional viewpoints unsurprising, making Kreisberg the real wild card. Capable of swinging firmly on the ambling Cole Porter classic “All of You,” and navigating changes with ease on a soft, Latin-esque take of Jule Styne’s “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” Kreisberg demonstrates, on the originals, that he’s not left his progressive days of a decade ago completely behind him. Adopting a grittier tone for La Barbera’s altered 5/4 blues, “Sixth Sense,” he mixes in-the-gut phrases with lithe intervallic shifts—the perfect setup for Locke’s equally impressive solo, supported by Anderson and La Barbera’s visceral groove.

This isn’t the first time Locke has worked with a guitarist—his work on Vic Juris’ Blue Horizon (Zoho, 2004) is especially noteworthy, alongside Locke’s discs with Paul Bollenback—but it’s never sounded this seamless, this comfortable. It would be easy to think of Gary Burton’s on-again, off-again work with Pat Metheny, but only at the most superficial of levels. On Locke’s winding but ultimately lyrical samba-esque “Terzani,” the vibraphonist’s unexpectedly abstract a capella solo and Kreisberg’s equally abstruse, sonically processed duet with La Barbera are only half the story, with both turning in dexterous but effortlessly melodic ensemble-backed solos elsewhere on this and other tracks.

The fiery “The Rosario Material” and up-tempo swinger “Appointment in Orvieto” show Locke’s ability to write complex tunes that sing. But Sticks and Strings’ highlight may well be “A Word Before You Go,” where Locke’s affinity for evocative balladry proves that the most innocent melody and simplest changes can sometimes be the most moving.

It’s always risky, with a track record like Locke’s, to describe his latest record as his best yet. Where Sticks and Strings will place when the book is closed on his discography many years in the future is uncertain. For now, he’s never sounded better, with vibrant writing and unrelentingly fine playing/interplay, further proof that Locke is amongst the finest vibraphonists on any scene.

 

01/11/2007 Dr. Jeff Monroe

The vibraphone has never been an easy sell for a leading musician. Compared to piano or brass—whose attention is all but assured, it has usually remained somewhat overshadowed. Joe Locke, one of the premier vibraphonists on the scene today, has changed course on Sticks and Strings, recorded for the Palermo, Italy label, Jazz Eyes. Locke is very popular in Italy; performing there often it appears he’s found a second home. Having forged his own identity in the post bop/Bobby Hutcherson, progressive/Mike Mainieri realm, this outing puts him on a collision course with Bill Frisell’s country-esque Americana.

Locke receives impressive help from guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg—who released the interesting The South of Everywhere (Mel Bay, 2007)—whose Scofield-influenced snaking unison comping and dexterous fretwork mark the disc from the get-go. Able rhythm support is provided by bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Joe La Barbera, but the main attraction is the interaction and interplay between Locke and Kreisberg.

Nowhere is this more evident than on “Terzani,” where Kreisberg’s multiphonic runs and harmonic overlays with Locke’s playing push the pace, and on the fleet, rapid-fire “The Rosario Material,” named for Italian altoist Rosario Giuliani.

Locke moves into Americana territory on “A Word Before You Go,” with it’s lilting country twang. Reflective and relaxed versions of Cole Porter’s “All Of You” and Julius Styne’s “I Fall In Love Too Easily” give nod to the standards songbook. ”Appointment in Orvieto,” one of Locke’s favorite Italian haunts, flows from the outset, with Kreisberg’s graceful fretwork and Locke’s melodic swinging.

The proceedings conclude full circle with “Sixth Sense,” where relaxed electric strumming mingles with meandering sinuous vibes. The entire CD has a very nocturnal feel, interjected with moments of cool and understated burning, although a slight homogeneity pervades. Based on his playing here, Kreisberg should garner some well-deserved acclaim.

Those new to Locke’s music will probably like this outing, but may want to begin elsewhere in his discography. For those already familiar with this longstanding mallet talent, this new direction could be an eye- and ear-opener.

Visit Joe Locke on http://www.joelocke.com

 

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