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Joe Locke: Bags’ Groove

Joe Locke
Joe Locke

On 2003’s 4 Walls of Freedom (Sirocco), vibist Joe Locke performed an ambitious suite that he composed for a quartet that showcased tenor saxophonist Bob Berg (in his final studio recordings). But Locke dips back into a hard-bop bag on Rev-elation (Sharp Nine), a heartfelt and eminently swinging tribute to the late vibes master Milt “Bags” Jackson. The rhythm section that backed Jackson during the last decade of his life–pianist Mike LeDonne, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Mickey Roker–anchor the music on Rev-elation. The group exhibits deep bandstand chemistry in this live recording, which documents two nights last April at Ronnie Scott’s in London. Their swinging takes on Jackson’s “The Prophet Speaks,” Ray Brown’s “Used to Be Jackson,” Horace Silver’s “Opus de Funk” and LeDonne’s tribute to his former employer, “Rev-elation,” perfectly exemplify the Sharp Nine’s “straight ahead and in the pocket” credo.

“Bags is a big part of who I am,” Locke says. “I normally wouldn’t do a tribute album, but this was honoring somebody who is hugely important to the instrument and to me personally. And it was [made] with the cats who really knew his music.

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