LIVE: The Joe Locke Trio @ the Athens Cultural Center, 12/3/11

January 17th, 2012, 4:15 pm by Greg
Joe Locke  (photo by Jahn Jaeger)

Joe Locke

NOTE: We are proud to partner with Planet Arts and students from the Germantown Central School District on the Open MIC (Music Industry Connections) Project, in which select students had the hands-on opportunity to document a live performance by the Joe Locke Trio as part of Planet Arts’ Jazz one2one concert series and have their work published at Here’s the first of the two parts of the students’ work:

Review by Elizabeth Choinsky
Photographs by Jahn Jaeger

The Athens Cultural Center was packed with quite a few fans standing around the art-filled room, rocking rhythmically to the fantastic beats filling the air. To the uninitiated ear, the music generated by the members of the Joe Locke Trio — vibraphonist Joe Locke, percussionist Jaimeo Brown and bassist Jay Anderson — didn’t sound like jazz at all. However, the rise and fall in volume and Locke’s seemingly random scatting energized the crowd, as well as the performers. Jazz fans could recognize a few more traditional jazz tunes — Ellington’s “Caravan” and Miles Davis’ “Solar” — mixed in with the more abstract sound.

A brief Q&A with the audience revealed that these three had never actually played together. Without any kind of rehearsal, these three musicians got on stage in front of a crowd of expectant fans and produced something never before heard. This awe-inspiring performance was spun out of a great deal of improvisation.

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LIVE: Joe Locke & Friends @ the Athens Cultural Center, 12/3/11

December 15th, 2011, 4:00 pm by Greg
The Joe Locke Trio @ the Athens Cultural Center, 12/3/11 Photo by Jahn Jaeger

The last time I saw vibes master Joe Locke, he was burning it up underneath an overpass at the late lamented Kingston Jazz Festival; unfortunately, the stage set-up there didn’t allow me to get a close look at him working. For his appearance last Saturday at the Athens Cultural Center, I was close enough to see Locke’s breath fog one of his bars when he blew on it to “make” the black-and-gold instrument pulse. (“Sorry about that,” he murmured immediately, apparently suffering a stab of uncharacteristic self-consciousness.)

This level of intimacy came courtesy of Planet Arts’ outstanding one2one concert series, which gives you a concert and a pre-show question-and-answer session in one reasonably-priced package. It’d be easy to just talk about the experience at the physical level, given the size of the performance space at Athens Cultural Center: The main gallery is pretty spacious for a reclaimed storefront, but between the low ceiling and the backs-to-the-wall crowd that jammed its way in prior to the Q&A, things were a bit close.

But things went far beyond the physical as the affable Locke quickly warmed to the audience’s questions, talking openly about everything from the first time he heard (and saw) a vibraphone to how both he and bassist Jay Anderson prefer to teach students out of their homes. “Sometimes,” he told us, “It’s sitting down, making pasta, and saying, ‘Let me play you this…'” In between, Locke named Chicago and Santana as the gateway bands that led him to jazz, talked about the experience of playing with Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda and raved about marimba player Ed Saindon, calling him “the guru of mallet jazz.” (“You’ve got to search ‘Saindon’ and ‘marimba’ on YouTube,” he enthused. FYI: I followed his advice, and the results are pretty cool.)

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