Joe Locke is widely considered to be one of the major voices of his instrument. He has performed and recorded with a diverse range of notable musicians, including Grover Washington Jr, Kenny Barron, Eddie Henderson, Cecil Taylor, Dianne Reeves, Ron Carter, The Beastie Boys, the Münster Symphony Orchestra and the Lincoln, Nebraska Symphony.
“Not only has he mastered an instrument that has catapulted only a handful of players to the forefront of modern jazz – but he has done so in a way that transcends mere technique and establishes him as a unique and adventurous musical voice.”
— Derk Richardson, San Francisco Bay Guardian
Long known to be a soloist capable of stunning physical power and broad emotional range, it was not until the last decade that he emerged as the composer, band leader and conceptualist that he is considered today. This is in no small part due to his recent solo projects. “Four Walls of Freedom” (Sirocco), a 6 movement suite based on the writing of the monk Thomas Merton, which he composed as a vehicle for tenor saxophonist Bob Berg, garnered high praise from the critical community as a major work and won several international polls. “Live in Seattle” (Origin), by The Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group, won the 2006 Ear Shot award for “Concert of the Year”. This group is well loved and emulated by younger musicians looking for direction and inspiration. The overwhelming success of his recent quartet, “Force of Four” (Origin), can be attributed to the talents of his young cohorts and to the leader’s musical philosophy, which is to honor tradition while keeping both feet planted in the present and future. His 2011 album, the captivating, immersive album “VIA”, is the result of a reunion of Storms/Nocturnes, the transatlantic trio with Geoffrey Keezer and Tim Garland.
“In the select group of contemporary vibes players, Locke has claims to head the list.”
— Penguin Encyclopedia of Jazz
Since joining Motéma Music in 2011 Joe has released “Signing”, the long awaited follow-up and critically acclaimed studio album of “Live In Seattle” by The Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group, again featuring Terreon Gully and Mike Pope. “The special hook-up between vibraphonist Joe Locke and pianist Geoffrey Keezer is based on shared assets like chops, listening skills and a gift for communicating the joy of making music. Locke/Keezer can make complex material sound suave and tricky time signatures flow.” (Thomas Conrad, JazzTimes).
2012 also saw the release of Joe Locke’s first ever symphonic project. “Wish Upon A Star” (Motéma) features the Joe Locke Quartet and Lincoln Nebraska’s Symphony Orchestra with arrangements by Ryan Cohan and Tim Garland.
Locke has won numerous awards and polls, including the 2006, 2008 and 2009 “Mallet Player of the Year” award from the Jazz Journalists Association. He is active as a clinician / educator and has been the International Vibraphone Consultant at the Royal Academy of Music, London, on a visiting basis since 2008.