Joe's Journal
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Rage Boy blows a mean chorus  
Chris LockeChris Locke is my older brother. He is, or has been at various times, a writer, public speaker, gonzo journalist, trend-setter, carpenter, musician and (briefly) monkey brain surgeon. He has a website at - home to some brilliant, disturbing, soulful articles, rants and essays.

Here is an excerpt from one about music that really got to me. It expresses my own visceral connection to music. He's talking about rock n' roll and I play jazz, but it doesn't matter. He really speaks for that kid, getting the message for the first time. Bro sure can write.

"....... And then here came the band. Who were these guys! They could really play. They could sing better than anything I was hearing on the radio. Soul, rhythm and blues. Wilson Picket. Otis Redding. Where had I been all my life? And I was only 18.

This is where I figured out about rock and roll, or whatever you call it that does that. And a whole lot else, I guess, though it's only just now sinking in, now that that world is dead as a burned out supernova ten million light years somewhere back behind yesterday. And the thing would sorta build up as the night wore on, the band getting hotter, the lovers getting hotter, the hall getting a whole lot hotter, until you were dancing your ass off, sweating like a motherfucker, stoned, exhausted and you didn't care anymore, and then the band would know they had you and they'd kick it over the edge, driving the beat like a blinded animal, the lead guitar suddenly sliding up from tasty to insistent to full-throttle roadhouse and just when you thought that was the top, the horns would come in, a whole line of them wailing blasting blowing the fucking roof off and they'd cook like that for so long you could not believe it, as it defied the very laws of God and man, shredded the fabric of space and time, and you'd find yourself shouting "Yes! Yes! Yes!" like a goddam madman just like everybody else, and that wall of sound, of crazy joyous noise, was all the reason you needed, all the reason you'd ever likely get, and everybody knew it. Which was the whole point. The heart and soul of rock and roll. And all the rest of it. If you didn't get it then, you never would.

I got it. And so do you, or you got no business being here."

Monday, August 28, 2006
The 'information highway'...  
"The 'information highway' may have 500 lanes, but 499 of them are filled bumper to bumper with garbage trucks."
-Monterey Jack Tobin

Monday, August 14, 2006
Good vibes from the PJQ  
Last week was Alan Bergman's birthday. Alan is a very respected attorney in the music business - a friend to many great musicians, and a swingin' drummer himself. Anyway, I went to the b-day bash, and Alan was playing w/ the Princeton Jazz Quintet, a group that was formed many years ago when all the members were undergrads at Princeton University, and reassembled in recent years. The cats all sounded great. Nice repetoire and arrangements too - "Violets For Your Furs", Neil Hefti's "Cute", "Triste", etc. As a vibist, the big treat for me was vibraphonist Dick Lincoln. This cat can play! Really swingin' and nice lines. Early into his 1st solo of the set, I had the feeling, "Oh, I'm in good hands with this guy". Hard to describe - just a good feeling of being able to relax into the music. He reminds me of some of my faves - Milt, Dave Pike, Lem Winchester, but he's got his own thing. Just great!

The next day I saw Alan and he played me a recording he, Dick Lincoln and pianist John Eaton made w/ Wayne Shorter in 1956 ! ..... a saxophone blindfold test for the ages!!!

Thanks, cats. -JL

Wednesday, July 12, 2006
LeRoy Downs - The Jazz Cat  
Last night I had the pleasure of doing an interview with LeRoy Downs, the Jazz Cat.
Mr. Downs is a class act. When he does an interview with an artist, he brings with him his erudition and his great love of music - a helluva combination! His interviews are initially aired on KRML / 1410 AM, and then archived at his own website at This site is full of good information..... articles, videos, and lots of interviews with such great artists as Bobby Hutcherson, Dianne Reeves, Robert Hurst, Jean-Michel Pilc, Christian McBride, etc., conducted by the Jazz Cat himself.

Check it out when you get a chance!

p.s. a big thank you to Gary Hamada, George Fuller and all the folks at KRML for keeping the music in people's ears and hearts.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Hard Rain Falling  
I woke this 4th of July morning to the sound of rain. It seemed somehow fitting that this Independence Day wouldn't be, on the NE coast anyway, a day of sunshine and picnics and parades. Perhaps the dark sky was asking us to reflect about what America was, what it has become, and what we (dare we?) imagine it could still be.

I have had some hope of late. People are talking.... my colleagues are writing and playing about the political climate in America (Ben Allison, Uri Caine to mention just two). Charlie Haden, of course, has always been courageously outspoken on the subject. But it is in the pop world where I see / feel some small shift.... and it is thanks to a few people of character and conscience. The other night on VH-1, Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam appeared on a show called "Story Tellers". Vedder was, as always, outspoken and eloquent, calm yet resolved in his anti-Bush administration stance. In an era when pop stars are trying to turn the song into.... the movie into..... the clothing line into..... the fragrance, Vedder and P/J are using their celebrity to effect change, to wake up the sleeping. They know that no matter how you market it, shit stinks. Millions of young people saw that show. Does it make a difference? I don't know, but I take pride in knowing that many, many of us will "rage against the dying of the light", the strangulation of WE THE PEOPLE.

I recently attended a performance at Madison Square Garden by Bruce Springsteen's "Seeger Sessions" band. Although much of the evening was happy and upbeat, the concert left me moved and shaken, incredibly sad and yet charged with power as I, along with thousands of others in The Garden, sang, "Bring 'em home, bring 'em home, bring 'em home", the chorus to a Pete Seeger Vietnam-era anthem. Another song Bruce pulled out of his bag was "Mrs. McGrath", about a mother who greets her son, fresh home from war, to discover he has lost both his legs to cannonball fire. In prefacing this song, Springsteen stated, "This song was written in the 1860's, but it could have been written yesterday. You're not able to see it on your t.v. and the newspapers aren't talkin' about it, but there are Ms. McGraths all over this country right now." Springsteen has been a strong voice in this country for a long time. With this old music, made new again, Springsteen is doing something very powerful - he is educating while entertaining..... he is using the spotlight to reveal what is hidden in shadow..... what those in power would like very much to keep hidden in shadow. I would venture to guess that many Springsteen fans are apolitical. Some may even be dyed-in-the-wool conservatives. But I'm convinced that even the most right-leaning fan at that concert STOPPED TO THINK about what it is he/she is supporting. Now multiply that by 10,000......

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"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, its the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and its always a simple matter to drag the people along whether its a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, a parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."
- Hermann G�ring (at the Nuremberg Trials)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Doug Johnston / Central NY Jazz Orchestra  
Last friday (May 19th) I went to Syracuse, NY to guest with the Central New York Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Bret Zvacek. The seed had been planted more than a year earlier, when Doug Johnston, founding board member and acting president of the Central New York Jazz Arts Foundation, asked me about the possibility of being the CNYJO's guest artist for their 10th anniversary concert. I had met Doug in person and remembered him as a postive, energetic guy. On the telephone, that exuberance was undiminished. He spoke enthusiastically about the CNYJO , and about their new director, Bret Zvacek (he was right on all counts), telling me about past achievements and future plans. He was obviously proud of the organization, and in no time he had me as excited as he was about the 10th anniversary concert.

Over the ensuing months, Doug and I spoke several times. We tried to meet up in NYC for music or a meal, but schedules didn't allow. Then I found out that Doug was ill with pancreatic cancer, and that it was very serious. This was hard for me to believe, because Doug's vibe was so sweet - there was a calm center in him. I didn't feel fear or anxiety emanating from him, only positivity. It made me admire him.

When I arrived in Syracuse for the rehearsal, I was told that Doug had passed a few days earlier. I was mourning the death of my friend, the great pianist John Hicks, and was sad that I could not attend his funeral service in NYC because of my commitment to the CNYJO, only to walk into another scenario of loss. Two great men who, each in his way, contributed so much to the world of music, the community, and our culture.

The concert was memorable, touching and full of life. The cats in the band played great. Doug would have been proud... proud and happy.

I'd like to thank Bret Zvacek and The Band, Larry and Margaret Luttinger, Paul Russo, Mitch Mikel and all those in attendance at the CNYJO's 10th anniversary concert. It was powerful indeed to witness what Doug Johnston had been instrumental in building .... a legacy that will exist for a long time to come as a testament to his indomitable spirit.

For more information about the CNYJO, please click here.
photo: John Herr

Sunday, May 07, 2006
Locke/Keezer Group - "Live in Seattle"  
I'm very excited about this new recording. Geoffrey Keezer, Terreon Gully and Mike Pope are amazing. Before we did this live recording, they had been working together quite a bit as The Geoffrey Keezer Trio, playing G.K.'s very deep music, as well as touring together as the rhythm section for David Sanborn's band .... so they were, to put it mildly, on the same page. All I had to do was hold on and enjoy the ride.

Origin Records is releasing the CD on June 20th. They are a very cool label - progressive in their thinking. Check them out online.

Thursday, May 04, 2006
Truth and Reconciliation - Darrell Grant  
I just received my advance copy of pianist Darrell Grant's "Truth and Reconciliation" project. This was a true labor of love for D. - the result is some soulful music. John Patitucci, Brian Blade, Steve Wilson, Bill Frisell and Adam Rogers all contribute their art to the recording. D. even lays down some vocals on a tune or two, and they're outtasight. Joe Ferla engineered, so of course the sound is killing. I contributed some vibes to 1 track, Darrell's fresh arrangement of "The Way You Look Tonight". I played this several years ago with D., and always wanted to record it ...

... finally got the chance.

For more info about this project, please go to




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