Joe Locke

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Joe Locke
Joe Locke.jpg
Joe Locke, 2007
Photo by Nadja von Massow
Background information
Birth nameJoseph Paul Locke
Born (1959-03-18) March 18, 1959 (age 60)
Palo Alto, California, U.S.
InstrumentsVibraphone, marimba
Years active1975–present
LabelsMotéma, Wire Walker, Omnitone, Origin, Sharp Nine, SteepleChase, eOne
Associated actsForce of Four, 4 Walls of Freedom, Storms/Nocturnes

Joseph Paul Locke (born March 18, 1959) is an American jazz vibraphonist, composer, and educator.

Since moving to New York City in 1981, Locke has performed with Grover Washington Jr., Kenny Barron, Dianne Reeves, Eddie Daniels, Jerry Gonzalez, Rod Stewart, Beastie Boys, Eddie Palmieri, Eddie Henderson,[1] Hiram Bullock, Bob Berg, Ron Carter,[2] Jimmy Scott, Geoffrey Keezer, Mingus Big Band, and Randy Brecker.

He has toured extensively throughout the world as a leader and a 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 violist Yuri Bashmet; a 30-city tour of major capitals of Europe, performing Charles Mingus's magnum opus, "Epitaph", as a featured soloist under the direction of conductor Gunther Schuller; and duet concerts in Italy with avant-garde pianist Cecil Taylor.[3][4]


Locke was born in Palo Alto, California but raised in Rochester, New York.[5] A self-taught improviser, he benefited from his early studies in classical percussion and composition at the Eastman School of Music with John Beck, Gordon Stout, Ted Moore, and David Mancini.

In 1998 Locke recorded Saturn's Child, a duet with Frank Kimbrough. The follow-up, The Willow (Omnitone), added Tim Ries on woodwinds and Jeff Ballard on hand percussion. Collaborations with pianists Kenny Barron and David Hazeltine (Mutual Admiration Society) also resulted in albums.

In 2000, Locke recorded his first album with Sirocco Records and continued to record for his groups Storytelling and Walls of Freedom, and as a member of Storms/Nocturnes with Tim Garland and Geoffrey Keezer. The concept for the band Storytelling came out of meeting vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Mark Ledford in 1986 and produced two albums, Storytelling and State of Soul, that featured Locke as a composer and lyricist. The trio Storms/Nocturnes recorded Storms/Nocturnes (2001), Rising Tide (2003), and VIA (Origin, 2011).

Locke and Keezer recorded Summer Knows and Summertime. Completing the New Sound Quartet are bassist Bob Hurst and Billy Kilson on drums. This collaboration led to the creation of the Geoffrey Keezer Group, featuring Terreon Gully and Mike Pope and the 2005 Earshot Golden Ear Award-winning concert[6][7] and album Live in Seattle (Origin). After joining Motéma Music in 2011, the group released Signing.[8]

Locke and Christos Rafalides started the Locke/Rafalides Duo and Education Project in 2005 and recorded Van Gogh by Numbers. Locke has worked with Russell Malone, Eddie Higgins, Dianne Reeves, Vic Juris, and the New York Quartet with Billy Childs, Idris Muhammad, and Cameron Brown. He has composed and arranged for The Airmen of Note (2011 and 2012), the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and the Jazz Band Classic of the New York Youth Symphony.

Motema released Wish Upon A Star (2012), a live album with Lincoln's Symphony Orchestra. His third album for Motema, Lay Down My Heart – Blues & Ballads Vol. 1, reached No. 1 on the Jazz Week album chart in July 2013.[9]

Locke was appointed International Vibraphone Consultant by the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2008, a position he holds on a visiting basis. He was elected Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (Hon ARAM) by the Governing Body in 2014.[10]

Locke has recorded over 30 albums as a band leader. As producer and sideman, he appears on more than 65 recordings.

He has been voted No. 1 vibist in DownBeat magazine's Critics' Poll and Brazil's International Jazz Poll.[11]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Jazz Journalist Association Awards: Mallet Instrumentalist (Mallet Player) of the Year, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2016, 2018, 2019
  • Rochester Music Hall of Fame induction, 2016
  • Hot House NYC Jazz Awards: 'Vibes Player of the Year', 2013
  • Golden Ear Award from Earshot Jazz, Seattle: Concert of the Year, 2005, 2007


  • 1990 Present Tense (SteepleChase)
  • 1991 Longing (SteepleChase)
  • 1991 But Beautiful with Kenny Barron SteepleChase
  • 1993 Wire Walker (SteepleChase)
  • 1995 Very Early (SteepleChase)
  • 1995 Moment to Moment: The Music of Henry Mancini (Milestone)
  • 1996 Inner Space (SteepleChase)
  • 1997 Sound Tracks (Milestone)
  • 1998 Slander (And Other Love Songs) (Milestone)
  • 1999 Saturn's Child with Frank Kimbrough (OmniTone)
  • 1999 Mutual Admiration Society with David Hazeltine Quartet (Sharp Nine)
  • 2001 Beauty Burning (Sirocco)
  • 2001 The Willow with Frank Kimbrough (OmniTone)
  • 2001 Storytelling (Sirocco)
  • 2002 State of Soul (Sirocco)
  • 2003 4 Walls of Freedom (Sirocco)
  • 2004 Dear Life (Sirocco)
  • 2004 Sailing (Pony Canyon)
  • 2004 Summer Knows with Geoff Keezer (Eighty Eight's/Sony)
  • 2005 Summertime with Geoff Keezer (Eighty Eight's/Sony)
  • 2005 Rev.elation (Sharp Nine)
  • 2005 Van Gogh by Numbers with Christos Rafalides (Wire Walker)
  • 2006 Fallen Angel with Bob Sneider (Sons of Sound)
  • 2006 Live in Seattle with Geoffrey Keezer (Origin)
  • 2007 Sticks and Strings (MusicEyes)
  • 2008 Live at JazzBaltica with Trio Da Paz (Maxjazz)
  • 2008 Verrazano Moon with Frank Kimbrough (OmniTone)
  • 2008 Force of Four (Origin)
  • 2009 Mutual Admiration Society Vol. 2 (Sharp Nine)
  • 2010 For the Love of You (E1)
  • 2011 Via with Geoffrey Keezer, Tim Garland (Origin)
  • 2012 Signing (Motéma)
  • 2012 Wish Upon a Star (Motéma)
  • 2013 Lay Down My Heart: Blues & Ballads, Vol. 1 (Motéma)
  • 2015 Love Is a Pendulum (Motéma)
  • 2018 Subtle Disguise (Origin)

As sideman[edit]

With Freddy Cole

  • 1994 Always
  • 1994 I Want a Smile for Christmas
  • 1996 A Circle of Love
  • 1997 To the Ends of the Earth
  • 1999 Le Grand Freddy[12]

With Barbara Dennerlein

  • 1995 Take Off!
  • 1997 Junkanoo[12]

With Dena DeRose

  • 2000 I Can See Clearly Now
  • 2002 Love's Holiday[12]

With Wayne Escoffery

  • 2007 Veneration
  • 2008 Hopes and Dreams[12]

With David Finck

  • 2008 Future Day
  • 2017 Low Standards[12]

With Eddie Henderson

  • 1994 Inspiration
  • 1994 Phantoms
  • 1994 Think on Me
  • 1995 Dark Shadows
  • 1998 Dreams of Gershwin
  • 1999 Reemergence
  • 2001 Oasis[12]

With Frank Kimbrough

  • 2001 The Willow
  • 2008 Verrazano Moon[12]

With Manny Oquendo

  • 1999 Ahora
  • 2000 Los New Yorkinos[12]

With Dianne Reeves

  • 1999 Bridges
  • 2004 Christmas Time Is Here[12]

With Jim Rotondi

  • 2001 Destination Up
  • 2010 1000 Rainbows[12]

With others


  1. ^ "Joe Locke On Piano Jazz". Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  2. ^ "Joe Locke". Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  3. ^ Jazz, All About. "Joe Locke: For the Love of You". Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  4. ^ editmostly. "Malletech - Joe Locke on Omega Vibe". Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  5. ^ Henderson, Alex. "Joe Locke". AllMusic. Retrieved September 7, 2010.
  6. ^ Records, Origin. "Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group Live In Seattle (Origin 82464)". Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  7. ^ "Jazziversaries March 18th". Blew notes. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  8. ^ "Motema Music. Artists of power and distinction since 2003". Motema Music. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  9. ^ "Jazz Chart: July 1, 2013" Jazz Week album charts. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Joe Locke in DownBeat Magazine's Critics Poll listing". Joe Locke - official website. July 27, 2016. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Joe Locke". AllMusic. Retrieved May 16, 2018.

External links[edit]