"For me, it comes down to two things - sound and quality. With Mike Balter mallets I get both!"
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.
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 the 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 honour 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, about which Chick Corea said " This trio is unique, a chamber jazz form that truly sizzles with virtuosity and creativity. Tim, Geoff and Joe make an amazing trio".
Since joining Motéma Music in 2011 Joe has released three intrinsically different albums bearing witness of his immense stylistic versatility and ability to create artistic depth in a variety of contexts:
"Signing" is 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).
After "Signing", the long awaited follow-up studio album of "Live In Seattle" 2012 also saw the release of Joe Locke's first ever symphonic project, "Wish Upon A Star", featuring Locke's Quartet with Lincoln Nebraska's Symphony Orchestra, and the Jazz radio charts #1 Blues & Ballads album "Lay Down My Heart" in 2013.
His latest Motéma release "Love Is A Pendulum" is an arresting collection of all original music, the centrepiece of which is a five movement suite, based on a poem by the writer and musician Barbara Sfraga. The Spring 2015 release is already being hailed the most important work of Locke's career.
Joe Locke has won numerous awards and polls, including the 2006, 2008 and 2009 "Mallet Player of the Year" award from the Jazz Journalists Association, and the 2013 Hot House NYC Jazz Awards for best Vibes Player. He is active as a clinician and educator in the United States and Europe.