526

Joe Locke / Christos Rafalides Vibes / Mallet Duo: Van Gogh by Numbers

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Joe Locke / Christos Rafalides Vibes / Mallet Duo: Van Gogh by Numbers If jazz is a marginalized genre and the vibraphone is a marginalized instrument within that genre, then Van Gogh by Numbers—an album of vibes and marimba duets—is clearly a first. But the idea of an intimate series of mallet duets will come as no surprise to listeners familiar with Joe Locke, who's been active for over two decades but has garnered considerably more attention in recent years. Whether with his own band, Four Walls of Freedom; his collaborative New Sound Quartet, with pianist Geoffrey Keezer; or on last year's Milt Jackson tribute, Rev-Elation (Sharp Nine, 2005), Locke's intrepid and flexible nature means he always finds the deepest meaning, regardless of context.

Van Gogh by Numbers teams him with Christos Rafalides, a late-1990s graduate student of Locke's from the Manhattan School of Music. Rafalides may have been his student then, but he's on equal footing here, fully sharing the spotlight in both composition and performance. Locke stays mainly on vibes and Rafalides on marimba, the two swapping instruments only twice—on Rafalides' bright "Pandora's Dance" and Locke's poignant "Waking Now, I Wonder."

The textural nature of the two instruments—the vibes' brighter colours and the marimba's darker, woodier sound—works exceptionally well together, creating a sound that's full yet spacious. While there's room for dense harmonic clusters, the music never become cluttered. Locke's title track sets the tone for the album, often made up of long-form and winding melodies with shifting bar lines and a seamless tag-team approach to trading solo and accompaniment duties.

Locke's "Suite di Morleo" first surfaced on Four Walls of Freedom's eponymous 2003 debut, and "Movement #3: Waking Now, I Wonder" appeared in a more melancholy reading on woodwind multi-instrumentalist Tim Garland's Storms/Nocturnes (Sirocco, 2001) as "The Lost Lenore." The duo's approach to this suite proves just how malleable Locke's writing can be. The first movement features an elegant Locke solo that demonstrates just how well he can marry formidable technique with the emotional needs of a song. The second movement, while ultimately resolving into something more rhythmic, remains more a slow simmer than the energetic boil of Four Walls of Freedom. The third movement is taken at a faster pace than on Storms/Nocturnes; Locke's marimba carries the pulse, while Rafalides' vibes stand out up front with the lyrical melody.



The duo also reinvents a pair of standards. "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" becomes an idiosyncratic 9/8 romp, while Miles Davis/Bill Evans' "Blue in Green" trades in its more atmospheric origins for a surprisingly insistent pulse.

Throughout Van Gogh by Numbers Locke and Rafalides demonstrate the kind of shared understanding that explains why the duet is perhaps the most intimate of all possible musical ensembles. With only two players in the conversation, it's possible for each one to be totally focused on what the other is saying without interruption, and both Locke and Rafalides are sensitive listeners indeed.

This recording is available at CDBaby on the web.

Track Listing: Van Gogh by Numbers; Sorayia; Love is a Many Splendored Thing; Sword of Whispers; Pandora's Dance; Suite di Morleo: Movement #1: Now I Lay Me Down; Movement #2: Now in Darkness I Dream; Movement #3: Waking Now, I Wonder; Danzon en Primavera; Blue in Green.

Personnel: Joe Locke: vibes, marimba (5, 8); Christos Rafalides: marimba, vibes (5, 8).

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Wire Walker | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Bobby Hutcherson Bobby Hutcherson
vibraphone
Mike Mainieri Mike Mainieri
vibraphone
Gary Burton Gary Burton
vibraphone
Milt Jackson Milt Jackson
vibraphone
Astor Piazzolla Astor Piazzolla
bandoneon
Stefon Harris Stefon Harris
vibraphone
Teddy Charles Teddy Charles
vibraphone
Steve Nelson Steve Nelson
vibraphone

More Articles

Read Overseas V CD/LP/Track Review Overseas V
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 30, 2017
Read Behind The Mist CD/LP/Track Review Behind The Mist
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: March 30, 2017
Read Salão Brazil CD/LP/Track Review Salão Brazil
by John Sharpe
Published: March 30, 2017
Read Sedimental You CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by John Sharpe
Published: March 30, 2017
Read Overseas V CD/LP/Track Review Overseas V
by Troy Collins
Published: March 30, 2017
Read Disappeared Behind the Sun CD/LP/Track Review Disappeared Behind the Sun
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 29, 2017
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Natural Language" CD/LP/Track Review Natural Language
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "A Multitude of Angels" CD/LP/Track Review A Multitude of Angels
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Early Americans" CD/LP/Track Review Early Americans
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 22, 2016
Read "My Foolish Heart" CD/LP/Track Review My Foolish Heart
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 3, 2017
Read "Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC" CD/LP/Track Review Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC
by James Nadal
Published: July 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!