Joseph Paul Locke (born March 18, 1959) is an American jazz vibraphonist, composer, and educator.
Since moving to New York City in 1981, Locke has performed with Grover Washington, Jr., Kenny Barron, Dianne Reeves, Eddie Daniels, Jerry Gonzalez' Fort Apache Band, Rod Stewart, Beastie Boys, Eddie Henderson, Hiram Bullock, Bob Berg, Ron Carter, Jimmy Scott, Geoffrey Keezer, The Mingus Big Band and Randy Brecker, among many others. Locke has toured extensively throughout the world, both as leader and guest soloist. Some highlights include a 16-city tour of Russia, which culminated in a concert with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of 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 conductor Gunther Schuller; and a series of duet concerts in Italy with avant garde pianist Cecil Taylor.
Locke was born in Palo Alto, California but raised in Rochester, New York. A self-taught improviser, he benefited from his early studies in classical percussion and composition at the Eastman School of Music with John Beck, Gordon Stout, Ted Moore and David Mancini.
In 1998 Locke recorded a duet record with Frank Kimbrough, Saturn's Child. The follow-up to this album, The Willow (Omnitone Records), found Locke and Kimbrough expanding the sonic palette by adding Tim Ries on woodwinds and Jeff Ballard on hand percussion. Collaborations with pianists such as Kenny Barron and David Hazeltine (Mutual Admiration Society) equally resulted in album releases.
In 2000, Locke recorded his first album with Sirocco Records and continued to record for his groups such as Storytelling and Walls of Freedom, and as a member of Storms/Nocturnes, with Tim Garland and Geoffrey Keezer. The concept for the band Storytelling came out of meeting vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Mark Ledford in 1986 and produced two vocal-based recordings that featured Locke as a composer and lyricist: "Storytelling" and "State of Soul". Storms/Nocturnes so far have produced three recordings and numerous tours: 2001's "Storms/Nocturnes" and 2003's "Rising Tide". The trio reunited in 2010 for a select series of concerts in Europe and released the album "VIA" (Origin Records) in 2011.
In 2004/2005 Locke teamed up again with pianist Keezer for two recordings on the Eighty Eight's label (Sony Music): Summer Knows and Summertime. Completing the New Sound Quartet are bassist Bob Hurst and Billy Kilson on drums. This collaboration led to the creation of the Geoffrey Keezer Group, featuring Terreon Gully and Mike Pope and the 2005 Earshot Golden Ear Award-winning concert and subsequent album Live in Seattle (Origin Records). Since joining Motéma Music in 2011, the group has released their second album, Signing.
Locke has also been working intensively with fellow vibes and marimba artist Christos Rafalides, leading to the Locke/Rafalides Duo and Education Project in 2005, including the recording Van Gogh by Numbers (Wire Walker Music).
Other recordings have found him guesting with Russell Malone, Eddie Higgins, Vic Juris, The New York Quartet (featuring Billy Childs, Idris Muhammed and Cameron Brown), Tim Garland's Storms/Nocturnes chamber trio and vocalist Dianne Reeves. While maintaining a busy touring schedule, Locke also finds time to work with student ensembles, teach at numerous educational institutions in the US and Europe and compose/arrange for the Airmen of Note (two performances in 2011 and 2012), the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and the Jazz Band Classic of the New York Youth Symphony.
In 2012/2013 Motéma Music released his first symphonic CD, a live recording with Lincoln's Symphony Orchestra, Wish Upon A Star (2012). His third 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.
Joe Locke was appointed International Vibraphone Consultant by the Royal Academy of Music, London in 2008 – a position which he holds on a visiting basis – and was elected Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (Hon ARAM) by the Governing Body in 2014.
Locke has recorded over 30 CDs as a band leader. As producer and as a sideman, he appears on more than 65 recordings.
He has been voted No.1 vibist in DownBeat Magazine's Critic's Poll (TDWR) and Brazil's International Jazz Poll.
- "Joe Locke's crystalline tone has a warm glow around the edges, which suits the shape of his improvisations to perfection." — Dave Gelly, The Guardian
- "Joe Lockes playing and writing have been an absolute joy to this vibists ears that have been starving to hear a player who challenges himself on every tune. Joe is constantly pushing the envelope musically. The cat is going into orbit soon...I love it!" — Mike Mainieri
- "In the select group of contemporary vibes players, Locke has claims to head the list." — Penguin Encyclopedia of Jazz
- "Not only has he mastered an instrument that has catapulted only a handful of players to the forefront of modern jazz – but he has done so in a way that transcends mere technique and establishes him as a unique and adventurous musical voice." — Derk Richardson, San Francisco Bay Guardian
- JJA Award – 2016 Mallet Instrumentalist of the Year
- Rochester Music Hall of Fame – 2016 Inductee
- JJA Award – 2009 Mallet Instrumentalist of the Year
- JA Award – 2008 Mallet Player of the Year
- 2008 – Golden Ear Award – 2007 Concert of the Year
- JJA Award – 2006 Mallet Player of the Year
- 2006 – Golden Ear Award – 2005 Concert of the Year
- 1990 – Present Tense – (SteepleChase)
- 1991 – Longing – (SteepleChase)
- 1991 – But Beautiful – w/Kenny Barron (SteepleChase)
- 1993 – Wire Walker (SteepleChase)
- 1995 – Very Early – (SteepleChase)
- 1995 – Moment to Moment – (Milestone)
- 1996 – Inner Space – (SteepleChase)
- 1997 – Sound Tracks – (Milestone)
- 1998 – Slander and other Love Songs (Milestone)
- 1999 – Saturn's Child – w/Frank Kimbrough (OmniTone)
- 1999 – Mutual Admiration Society – Joe Locke & David Hazeltine Quartet w/David Hazletine Quartet (SharpNine)
- 2001 – Beauty Burning – (Sirocco)
- 2001 – The Willow – w/Frank Kimbrough (OmniTone)
- 2001 – Storytelling – (Sirocco)
- 2002 – State of Soul – (Sirocco)
- 2003 – 4 Walls of Freedom – Joe Locke & 4 Walls of Freedom (Sirocco)
- 2004 – Dear Life – Joe Locke & 4 Walls of Freedom (Sirocco)
- 2004 – Summer Knows – w/Geoff Keezer (Eighty Eight's/Sony)
- 2005 – Summertime – w/Geoff Keezer (Eighty Eight's/Sony)
- 2005 – Rev.elation – A Milt Jackson Tribute (Sharp Nine)
- 2005 – Van Gogh by Numbers – w/Christos Rafalides (Wire Walker)
- 2006 – Fallen Angel – w/Bob Sneider (Sons of Sound)
- 2006 – Live in Seattle – The Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group (Origin)
- 2007 – Sticks & Strings – Joe Locke Quartet (MusicEyes)
- 2008 – Live at JazzBaltica – Trio Da Paz & Joe Locke (Maxjazz)
- 2008 – Verrazano Moon – Joe Locke / Frank Kimbrough (Ominitone)
- 2008 – Force of Four – Joe Locke (Origin)
- 2009 – Mutual Admiration Society 2 – w/David Hazeltine (SharpNine)
- 2010 – For the Love of You – w/Geoffrey Keezer, George Mraz, Clarence Penn and vocalist Kenny Washington (E1)
- 2011 – VIA – Storms/Nocturnes – w/Geoffrey Keezer, Tim Garland (Origin)
- 2012 – Signing – The Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group – feat. Terreon Gully, Mike Pope (Motéma)
- 2012 – Wish Upon a Star – The Joe Locke Quartet w/Lincoln's Symphony Orchestra (Edward Polochick, Music Director) (Motéma)
- 2013 – Lay Down My Heart – Blues & Ballads Vol. 1 – (Motéma)
- 2015 – Love Is a Pendulum – (Motéma)
With Eric Alexander
- Solid! (Milestone, 1998)
With Eddie Henderson
- Inspiration (Milestone, 1994)