Published since 2002
Russ Musto has been a member of the jazz community for more than thirty years, working as a writer, radio personality, record producer, promoter and proprietor of the Village Jazz Shop.
Few tribute albums released these days do justice to the music of the honoree, or the artistry of the player acknowledging the influence of the venerated figure, on the high level that Joe Locke reaches on Rev-elation, easily one of the hardest swinging records released recently. Together with the trio of Mike LeDonne, Bob Cranshaw and Mickey Roker that regularly accompanied vibraphonist Milt Jackson in his final years, Locke wows an ecstatic audience at London's Ronnie Scott's with a set of bebop, ballads and blues out of the Bags book, along with two new dedicatory compositions: LeDonne's soulful title track, a reference to one of Jackson's other nicknames, "Rev(erend)" and the leader's "Big Town," a clever play on Roker's baptismal name, Granville.
Right from the start of the opening track, Jackson's "The Prophet Speaks," Locke shows that he has what it takes to walk the great vibraphonist's walk, without trying too hard to fill his shoes. The rhythm section supplies the same easy going groove that endeared it to its late leader and the hip arrangement shines the solo spotlight on each of the four band members. The date continues with a couple of original arrangements by Jackson alumniCedar Walton's relaxed medium tempo take on "Young and Foolish" and Ray Brown's sensitive reworking of "The Look and Love." The program proceeds with the aforementioned title tune, featuring LeDonne's tastefully swinging Fender Rhodes, followed by "Opus de Funk," Horace Silver's early hardbopping Jackson feature and the beautiful ballad "Close Enough For Love." Locke digs in deep on his soulful "Big Town" and shows off his chops on the closer, Ray Brown's "Used To Be Jackson." Rev-elation is full of subtle nuance and unselfconscious attention to detail that takes the music to the highest level and truly honors the man who inspired it all.
I Can't Give You Anything But Love
Locke figures prominently on bassist Calvin Hill's fine I Can't Give You Anything But Love. The quartet date, which also features Michael Cochrane at the piano and Yoron Israel on drums, is another sort of tribute datethis one in praise of love. Yet, despite the fact that almost all of the disc's titles include the L word, this is anything but a schmaltzy ballad record. The exceptional arrangements pleasingly vary tempo and meter, from the waltzing "I Fall In Love Too Easily" to the latinish "Beautiful Love" to the straight-ahead swinging "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," imparting an agreeable variety to the program, which is uniformly excellent. Hill reveals himself to be a lyrical soloist, while judiciously sharing the spotlight with his stellar bandmates on the nine odes to romance. A superb Valentine's Day soundtrack.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: The Prophet Speaks;Young and Foolish; The Look of Love; Rev-elation; Opus de Funk; Close Enough for Love; Big Town; Used to Be Jackson
Personnel: Joe Locke: vibraphone; Mike LeDonne: piano; Bob Cranshaw: bass; Mickey Roker: drums.
I Can't Give You Anything But Love
Tracks: I Fall in Love Too Easily; Falling in Love with Love; I've Never Been in Love; All the Things You Are; Beautiful Love; Hymn a l'Amour Manot; What Is This Thing Called Love; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; When I Fall in Love
Personnel: Calvin Hill: bass; Joe Locke: vibraphone; Michael Cochrane; piano; Yoron Israel: drums.
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