It is a combative and faded Joe Locke that is revealed in the booklet of his "thin masks", a new work by an artist who will turn sixty this year, a composer and vibraphonist who made his way in the '90s as a man of the new generation and has reached 35 (!) records as a leader, as well as countless sideman sessions in the most varied areas, from Cecil Taylor to Grover Washington Jr.
We had left it in 2015 with the well-deserved Downbeat plaudits for "Love Is a Pendulum", a successful Motéma album which the saxophones of Danny McCaslin and our Rosario Giuliani contributed to. For the debut on Origin, a Seattle label, Locke has resorted to a brand new base quartet (Jim Ridl piano and synth, Lorin Cohen bass, and Samuel Sarkisyan drums) to which are added two excellent guests, long almost inseparable and able to illuminate every incision day by day, ie David Binney on the alto and Adam Rogers on the guitar. The lively curiosity of Locke and his intellectual caliber is generously deployed on a sort of concept album in which seven intimately American originals stand out, elaborations that start from a folk plant and evolve like jade sculptures from the wonderful, vulnerable balance. "Who Killed Davey Moore?" is sung by Raul Midon, singer and blind guitarist who certainly deserves to be noted on the notebook, and has the credentials of a real hit, so much so that Locke has invested on a great video effect for the worldwide launch of "Subtle Disguise."
The hypnotic "Red Cloud" that opens the games is a real tomahawk that firmly fixes the attention and nails the entire album, the electric "Rogues of America" dedicated to (ne) fasti Trumpiani is perhaps a sad and logical development, but everyone will find a personal path in Lockian music, perhaps "Safe And Sound" at sidereally close to our days, to our lives, like the whole "Subtle Disguise", A work that I listen to after listening seems to literally rise and that we recommend without reservation to a wider audience than the canonical addicted jazz audience. *Roughly translated from Italian