Joe Locke

Joe Locke

Timpani and Percussion


International Vibraphone Consultant

Joe Locke was born in Palo Alto, California, but raised in Rochester, New York. A self-taught improviser, he also studied classical percussion and composition at the Eastman School of Music with John Beck, Gordon Stout, Ted Moore and David Mancini.

Joe has played with such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Pepper Adams and Mongo Santamaria before he left high school. Joe has since performed with Grover Washington, Jr. , Kenny Barron, Dianne Reeves, Eddie Daniels, Jerry Gonzales' Fort Apache Band, Rod Stewart, The Beastie Boys, Eddie Henderson, Hiram Bullock, Bob Berg, Ron Carter, Jimmie Scott, Geoffrey Keezer, The Mingus Big Band and Randy Brecker, among many others. He has toured extensively, both as leader and guest soloist.

Highlights include a 16-city tour of Russia, culminating in a concert with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of world-renowned violist, Yuri Bashmet; a 30 city tour of all major capitals of Europe, performing Charles Mingus' magnum opus, "Epitaph" as a featured soloist under the direction of distinguished conductor, Gunther Schuller and a series of volcanic duet concerts in Italy with pianist Cecil Taylor, where Joe went head-to-head for three nights with the undisputed high priest of the avant-garde.

He has participated in British reed player Tim Garland's Storms/Nocturnes Trio, which also features pianist Geoffrey Keezer and The Joe Locke/Geoffrey Keezer Group, which released the award winning and critically acclaimed "Live in Seattle" (2005). In 2008 Joe created the quartet Force of Four, featuring Robert Rodriguez, Johnathan Blake and Ricardo Rodriguez, releasing a highly successful self-titled album the same year.


Joe also finds time to work with student ensembles and compose for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and the Jazz Band Classic of the New York Youth Symphony. He is a faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music and has been International Vibraphone Consultant at the Royal Academy of Music on a visiting basis since 2008.

"In the select group of contemporary vibes players, Locke has claims to head the list." — Penguin Encyclopedia of Jazz