Joe Locke: Makram

Fluid US vibist joined by Tim Garland and Doug Beavers adds break-beat and Latin accents to standards and originals rooted in hard bop

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There’s plenty of fire and energy on display here. Joe Locke’s combo plays with a surging jazz rock beat which keeps the temperature near boiling point on the uptempo pieces as Locke and pianist Jim Ridl provide hard swinging solos.

A fast-paced Love For Sale begins the recital, Locke’s flying mallets carving out an aggressive vibes solo, as the rhythm section cooks fiercely behind him. Ridl matches him for sound and fury, his lines flowing along without pause for breath. Sarkisyan is the last soloist with an explosion of well-crafted rock drumming.

Raise Heaven takes the temperature way down with a lyrical elegy for the late Roy Hargrove. Joe proves he can play it warm and melodic here and the group fall in softly behind him.

Makram takes us into minor blues territory with the theme Middle Eastern flavoured. Samir Nasr Eddine adds colour on oud. Trombone and bass trombone are added to the line-up for Elegy For Us All which Locke describes as his deep sadness for the growing dark influences he sees threatening democracy in the United States. He’s got a point there. The performance is slow, sombre but lyrical.

Tim Garland, another guest, adds his soprano sax to the dense harmonies of Tushkin. Complex chord changes are heard on Shiftin’ Moon which the leader says was based on Coltrane’s Satellite. Bassist Cohen and drummer Sarkisyan lock together to supply a barrage of electric bass and rock drums on this one. All in all, a lively, varied programme.

Discography
Love for Sale; Raise Heaven; Makram; Elegy For Us All; Tushkin; Shifting Moon; Song For Vic Juris; Interwoven Hues; Lush Life (62.01)
Locke (vib) with, collectively: Jim Ridl (p); Lorin Cohen (b, elb); Samvel Sarkisyan (d); Doug Beavers (tb); Jennifer Wharton (btb, bb); Tim Garland (ss); Samir Nasr Eddine (pc); Eric C. Davis (frh). New Jersey, 29-30 March 2021.
Circle 9 Records C90003