LIVE: The Joe Locke Trio @ Central House, 4/25/15
Review and photographs by Rudy Lu
Although, Germantown is the former home of legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins, it can hardly be called a mecca of jazz. But it was just that last month when the newly renovated Central House bed and breakfast in Germantown was the site of a sold-out concert featuring vibraphone master Joe Locke and his trio in conjunction with an exhibition by renowned photographer Chuck Stewart, who was in attendance as an honored guest.
You may not know the name Chuck Stewart, but if you are a fan of old jazz vinyl LPs, you have certainly seen his work. His work is on literally thousands of album covers. On display were portraits of the masters of jazz, ranging from Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole to Alice Coltrane, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Steve Gadd. Although the work was considered commercial at the time, as its purpose was to help sell the music, it is now regarded as fine art as the work captured the essence of the artists and their times.
Inspired by the photographs on the wall and in the spirit of improvisation, vibraphone master Locke and his band played one continuous set of music starting with the Wayne Shorter composition “Footprints,” then playing tunes inspired by the portraits on the wall, “No Mo” by Sonny Rollins, “Nature Boy” inspired by the portrait of Nat King Cole and “Come Sunday” by Duke Ellington. He also played an original composition titled “Love Is a Planchette,” based on a poem by the same name describing how love should be treated with a light hand similar to the touch on a planchette, the pointer on a Ouija board.
Locke, who is known for always bringing fresh musical ideas and listening to his bandmates while playing, did not disappoint. The almost telepathic interplay between Locke, bass player Rick Rodriguez and drummer Jaimeo Brown was indeed fascinating and beautiful to listen to.
This concert was certainly an auspicious beginning to what will hopefully be just the first of many musical happenings in this tiny hamlet.