Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

6

Joe Locke: Subtle Disguise

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Have we been dealing with two different Joe Lockes for all these years? To some, the vibraphonist presents as a technically adept and intellectually curious seeker, constantly pushing through to new levels of possibility and commitment with his music. But for others, Locke is a conduit to understanding the human condition. This is a dichotomy that obviously speaks to vantage points and perspectives, with neither understanding ringing false. And while the existence of said split isn't at all surprising when considering a listener's potential takeaway from Locke's body of work, it's something that the artist himself has also wrestled with in the past. "For me, this album is the fruition of a long journey of self discovery as an artist, where I no longer see the different aspects of my musical personality as separate or at odds with one another," he notes. "I have discovered my own lingua franca, connecting the seemingly disparate styles I enjoy playing."

That statement, pulled from the press release for Subtle Disguise, isn't some mere marketing soundbite. To hear this music is to understand that Locke's stock neither rests solely with his four smoking mallets or his ability to pierce the psyche but, rather, with his gifts in rectifying said forces into one powerfully direct current. Blending the personal, the political, and the poetic into an artfully assembled package, Locke makes a profound statement about our times.

Opening with "Red Cloud," a hypnotic-turned-intense original that takes its name and inspiration from one of the most significant leaders of the Oglala Lakota, Locke gets down to business right away. With help from his core quartet, featuring pianist Jim Ridl, bassist Loren Cohen, and drummer Samvel Sarkisyan, and with the searing suggestions of guest saxophonist David Binney upping the ante, Locke hits a home run on his first at bat. Following that with a funky, metrically-slanted take on Bob Dylan's "Who Killed Davey Moore?" featuring vocalist-guitarist Raul Midon, the vibraphonist shifts musical gears while playing to the great folk bard's explorations of morality and man's hurtful insouciance.

As the album moves on, a gorgeous blend of the universal and the topical carries forth. With the title track, Locke, Ridl, and guitarist Adam Rogers explore the masks we all wear from time to time with a pointed and passionate grace; on the soulfully shimmering "Make Me Feel Like It's Raining," Locke salutes vibraphone trailblazer Bobby Hutcherson with warmth and tenderness; and through the literal centerpiece, "Rogues Of America," our present-day leaders are revealed as they truly are while Locke and company probe the depths with drive and electric purpose.

Subtle Disguise's second half proves equally moving and meaningful, opening on a version of "Motherless Children" that brings Midón and Rogers back into the fold to assist with a nod to the Steve Miller Band's rendition of that Blind Willie Johnson classic. It's Locke's tribute to his sister, Bea, who first turned him onto that blues-rock take. Then two of the most impactful compositions to ever come from Locke's pen—the cosmically pure "Safe And Sound (At The Edge Of The Milky Way)," taking name and image from an Albert Finney- delivered line in the film Orphans, and the charged "Blondie Roundabout," referencing Locke's manager, Nadja von Massow, and the energetic aura that surrounds her—arrive back-to- back. Both numbers previously appeared as notable inclusions on Parts Unknown (Origin, 2017), a Locke-enhanced gem from the John McLean/Clark Sommers Band, but each takes on a more organic appearance here.

While Locke could have easily ended with "Blondie Roundabout," using energy as his parting gift, he opts instead to raise heart and influence in his closing. Moving over to piano, he invites vocalist Alina Engibaryan to take the spotlight on "A Little More Each Day," a vocal rendition of "Make Me Feel Like It's Raining" that features some of Binney's most simple and directly soulful playing on record. It's but one last way that Locke shows himself and lays out what must be an intrinsic belief in John Keats' well-quoted line: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

Track Listing: Red Cloud; Who Killed Davey Moore?; Subtle Disguise; Make Me Feel Like It's Raining; Rogues of America; Motherless Children; Safe and Sound (At the Edge of the Milky Way); Blondie Roundabout; A Little More Each Day.

Personnel: Joe Locke: vibraphone; Jim Ridl: piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizers; Lorin Cohen: acoustic bass, electric bass; Samvel Sarkisyan: drums; Raul Midon: vocals (2, 6), guitar (2); Adam Rogers: guitar (1, 3, 6-8); David Binney: alto saxophone (1, 5, 8, 9); Alina Engibaryan: vocals (9).

Title: Subtle Disguise | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Origin Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Red Cloud

Red Cloud

Joe Locke
Subtle Disguise

Broken Toy

Broken Toy

Joe Locke
Lay Down Your Heart - Blues &...

Available in Blue

Available in Blue

Joe Locke
WIsh Upon a Star

The Lost Lenore

The Lost Lenore

Joe Locke
Signing

Her Sanctuary

Her Sanctuary

Joe Locke
VIA

Verrazano Moon

Verrazano Moon

Joe Locke
For the Love of You

Alpha Punk

Alpha Punk

Joe Locke
Force of Four

Sword of Whispers

Sword of Whispers

Joe Locke
Sticks and Strings

Van Gogh By Numbers

Van Gogh By Numbers

Joe Locke
Live In Seattle

Big Town

Big Town

Joe Locke
Rev-elation

Radio
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Interviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Extended Analysis
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Read more articles
Subtle Disguise

Subtle Disguise

Origin Records
2018

buy
Love Is A Pendulum

Love Is A Pendulum

Motéma Music
2015

buy
Wish Upon a Star

Wish Upon a Star

Motéma Music
2013

buy
Lay Down My Heart: Blues & Ballads Vol.1

Lay Down My Heart:...

Motéma Music
2013

buy
Signing

Signing

Motéma Music
2012

buy
VIA

VIA

Origin Records
2011

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jun14Fri
Joe Locke Trio
Jazz at Kitano
New York, NY
$32
Jun14Fri
Joe Locke Trio
Jazz at Kitano
New York, NY
$32
Jun15Sat
Joe Locke Trio
Jazz at Kitano
New York, NY
$32
Jun15Sat
Joe Locke Trio
Jazz at Kitano
New York, NY
$32
Jul14Sun
Joe Locke Quartet
Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society at the Douglas Beach House
Half Moon Bay, CA
$45
Jul25Thu
Pat Bianchi Quartet
Jazz Showcase
Chicago, IL
Jul26Fri
Pat Bianchi Quartet
Jazz Showcase
Chicago, IL

Related Articles

Read When Will The Blues Leave Album Reviews
When Will The Blues Leave
By Karl Ackermann
May 22, 2019
Read Crowded Heart Album Reviews
Crowded Heart
By Dan Bilawsky
May 22, 2019
Read Infinite Itinerant Album Reviews
Infinite Itinerant
By Geno Thackara
May 22, 2019
Read Pulcino Album Reviews
Pulcino
By Nicholas F. Mondello
May 22, 2019
Read Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances Album Reviews
Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances
By Dan McClenaghan
May 21, 2019
Read That's a Computer Album Reviews
That's a Computer
By Jerome Wilson
May 21, 2019
Read All I Do Is Bleed Album Reviews
All I Do Is Bleed
By Paul Naser
May 21, 2019