In the sleeve notes for the album Locke says "There is no highbrow concept here, just some songs pulled from a deep well which will hopefully serve to feed the soul". That's exactly what it does, but with all the tunes there are arrangements that drag them beyond what might be expected from just 'covers' to something rather special. What I like about Locke's style is that he's no flashy mallet- wielder, but a considered player who is happy to allow the other three members of the group space to spread out. Of particular note is the contribution of Ryan Cohan on piano who weaves around Locke's moods. David Fick the bass player is also allowed lots of dynamic space and Jaimed Brown on drums holds it all together, albeit unobtrusively. Favourite tracks are the opener "Ain't no sunshine" (yes, the Bill Withers tune),"The meaning of the blues" and a wonderfully original reading of "Making whoopee". It's encouraging that in a growing field of vibraphone players Joe Locke is able to create his own style, never reliant on a particular role model. The afterthought to the album title" Volume 1" suggests that there's much more to come.
on 10 July 2013
As a composer and leading vibes player, Joe Locke has always shown great sensitivity and intuition for engaging an audience and tapping into their mood and groove. "Lay Down My Heart - Blues & Ballads Vol 1" is another example of this rare talent. His gorgeous renditions of Blues & Ballads informed - if not all "in form" - from Bill Withers "Ain't No Sunshine" to his version of the Bonnie Raitt tune "I Can't Make You Love Me", all tick the classic 'feel good' box and let you wind down in the same way as a malt whiskey could at the end of a long working day.
Joe's versatility has found another high, and the fact that this CD has just topped the US JazzWeek radio charts is hardly surprising.