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 solo projects of the last decade. Four Walls of Freedom (Sirocco), a six-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 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.
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.
His recent release on the Motéma label, Lay Down My Heart – Blues & Ballads Vol 1, reached the No. 1 position of the Jazz Week album charts in July 2013.
Locke has topped polls and won numerous awards, including two Earshot Golden Ear Awards for Concert of the Year, the 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2016 Mallet Player of the Year award from the Jazz Journalists Association. In 2016 he was honoured with the induction into the Music Hall of Fame of his home town of Rochester, New York. He is active as a clinician and educator. He received the title of Honorary Associate of the Academy in 2014.