Joe Locke: Saturn's Child


Saturn's Child


Joe Locke (vibes)


Slander (and Other Love Songs) (Milestone MCD-9284-2)

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Joe Locke (vibes),

Billy Childs (piano), Vic Juris (guitar), Rufus Reid (bass), Gene Jackson (drums)


Composed by Joe Locke


Recorded: New York, March 24-25, 1997


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

Joe Locke has become one of today's most prominent jazz vibraphonists due to his technical mastery, versatility and composing ability. There is also a spirituality to his playing that sets him apart. The notes to Slander (and Other Love songs), for example, include the text of the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi's "In the Arc of Your Mallet," as well as a quote from Mark Twain: "Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work." Seen in live performance, Locke physically appears to be a coiled wellspring of energy as he navigates challenging harmonic pathways at urgent tempos or reflectively amplifies the essence of slow ballads. "Saturn's Child" falls in the latter category; it's one of Locke's most beautiful compositions, which he frequently performs and has twice recorded.

Billy Childs's electronic keyboards (although he is listed only as a "pianist" on this session) set the soothing mood. Locke plays the contemplative, ethereal theme in unison with guitarist Juris, as Childs evokes a string section's highly sympathetic support. The underappreciated Juris solos movingly with crystal-clear lines and a warm, rich tone. Locke's improvisation is played with a ringing tone reminiscent of Cal Tjader. His phrases, like those of Juris before him, are vibrant and lucidly delineated, delivered soulfully and with understated passion. The reprise lets us indulge once again in the exquisite grace of this superior melodic creation.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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