Vibraphonist Joe Locke is coming off a banner year. In January, he was inducted into the World Vibes Congress Hall of Fame. In May, he was awarded the Mallet Instrumentalist of the Year Award by the Jazz Journalists Association, and when the results of the 83rd Annual DownBeat Magazine Readers Poll were announced earlier this month, Locke wound up placing in the top three.
But 2018 isn’t over yet, and for Locke, that means there are more musical achievements ahead. Nearest on the horizon: the release of Subltle Disguise, Locke’s 36th album as a leader. The album, which is due out November 16 on Origin Records, walks an ambitious middle path between emotion and intellect, merging the visceral quality of traditional American roots music with the cerebral quality of contemporary jazz, literature and poetry.
A case in point is the group’s cover of “Who Killed Davey Moore?” by Bob Dylan. The song tells the story of the championship fight between Moore and Sugar Ramos on March 21, 1963, which would result in Moore’s death. Locke’s version, featuring guest artist Raul Midon on vocals, manages to retain the pointed observation and literary detail of Dylan ’s lyrics, while adding new musical dimensions through rock-steady groove and innovative harmony. JAZZIZ is proud to premiere the video for this video via the player above.
As you watch, you may notice a few special guests cameos, including vocalist Ian Shaw as the referee and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts as the manager. But the album itself also packs some serious star power, including special guests Adam Rogers (guitar), David Binney (saxophone), Alina Engibaryan (vocals) and Midon (vocals, guitar). Those stellar musicians join a core ensemble that includes Jim Ridl (piano, keyboards), Lorin Cohen (bass) and Samvel Sarkisyan (drums), all of whom articulate Locke’s original vision with precision and a healthy dose of flair.
Subtle Disguise is a crowning achievement from a certified vibraphone master. But don’t think of it as a swan song. Locke has lots more in store. “Truthfully,” he says, “I think I’m doing the best work of my entire career.”
For more information, or to pre-order a copy of the album, visit the Origin Records website.
To learn more about Joe Locke, including upcoming tour dates, visit him online.
Feature photo courtesy Joseph Boggess.