REVIEW: Joe Locke's Love is a Pendulum Quartet at Watermill Jazz, Dorking

Joe Locke's Love is a Pendulum group at the A-Trane in Berlin
Photo credit: Nadja von Massow


Joe Locke's Love is a Pendulum Quartet
(Watermill Jazz, Dorking, 28th January 2016, review by Peter Jones)


Times are changing at Watermill Jazz: at some point in the Spring, the club will move from its present comfortable and spacious HQ at the Aviva Sports and Social Club to the Betchworth Golf Club, opposite the Watermill pub, where it started out in 1994.

In the meantime, the Aviva played host to an exhilarating evening with American vibraphonist Joe Locke, accompanied by Robert Rodriguez on piano (not to be confused with the director of cheapo action movies), Ricardo Rodriguez (apparently no relation) on bass and Terreon Gully on drums. They’d flown in from Vienna earlier that day, and survived a long crawl along the M25. Joe Locke had borrowed a vibraphone from his friend Neil Percy, principal percussionist of the London Symphony Orchestra, who was in the audience.

Born in California but raised in New York State, Locke is a full-on performer. While soloing he attacks his instrument with tremendous energy and passion, flushed of face, darting this way and that, singing or even shouting along with his solo, hopping in the air at the end of a phrase, mallets aloft. This seems to be more than mere showmanship: he is an intense man, and his music is rich and complex, requiring huge concentration.

Most of the material in tonight’s show was taken from his new album Love Is A Pendulum, but they started out with the David Raksin standard Laura. It was a pleasingly Methenyesque arrangement, and beforehand Locke challenged the audience to identify it. This presented no difficulty: the correct answer was immediately called out by several people at the end of the number. The event had attracted an exceptionally attentive and knowledgeable crowd, as Locke himself pointed out later in the evening - and he wasn’t just soft-soaping them to buy the album.

Next came Betty One-Note, a version of Benny Golson’s Along Came Betty, followed by the Bobby Hutcherson-like This New October, and the skittering Love Is The Tide. In the second set came the Zappa-ish tune Love Is A Pendulum, featuring a brief but stunning Steve Gadd-style solo from Gully. It was followed by Sonny Rollins’s No Moe, based on the I Got Rhythm changes (and you could hear his nascent Alfie’s Theme) in the melody). The bass solo by Ricardo Rodriguez received one of the biggest ovations of the night – another indication, along with the absence of talking, that this was a proper jazz audience. After the ballad Embrace, they were called back for an encore described by its composer as a ‘barnburner’: Love Is Perpetual Motion.

Joe Locke is also perpetual motion, a man who throws his heart and soul into the music.

The same group is at Pizza Express Jazz Club Dean Street on Sunday night January 31st, 8pm start.  (BOOKINGS)

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