Jazz CD Reviews

Joe Locke – For the Love of You – E1 Music

Romantic ballads from Joe Locke and vocalist Kenny Washington.

Published on March 29, 2010

Joe Locke – For the Love of You – E1 Music

Joe Locke – For the Love of You – E1 Music E1E-CD-2046, 58:59 ***½:

(Joe Locke, vibes; Kenny Washington, vocals; Geoffrey Keezer, piano; George Mraz, bass; Clarence Penn, drums)

Following up on a 1994 Henry Mancini tribute that was produced by Todd Barkan, the multi-dimensional vibes player, Joe Locke, has returned to the theme of romantic music with For the Love of You. For this new issue, Locke and Barkan decided to include some other film composers, i.e. Anthony Newley, and Ennio Morricone, as well as the addition of non-jazz material from Neil Young, the Isley Brothers, and three winning Locke originals.

Band members are all top shelf with a dream rhythm section of Geoff Keezer, George Mraz, and Clarence Penn. After a week at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at the Lincoln Center in New York, the group went into the studio at Systems Two in Brooklyn in May, 2009, to record this CD.

Including a vocalist with the warm expressive talents of Bay Area jazz singer, Kenny Washington, was a wise choice as the standards are fleshed out with their well-known lyrics. Locke and Keezer blend so well and with Kenny’s silky voice, For the Love of You makes great late night romantic listening. Old Devil Moon is taken up-tempo and Locke gives the vibes a work-out. Michael Marciano recorded and mixed this CD wonderfully and there is a sheen that approaches audiophile quality.

The Isley’s title cut and Neil Young’s Birds both are given new life as ballads and Washington’s vocals bring to mind early Al Jarreau. Locke’s compositions, the instrumental, I Miss New York (When I Been Gone Too Long) about his fondness for the Big Apple; and Verrazano Bridge, a tribute to saxophonist Bob Berg, who tragically died in a car accident in 1992, are both superb. The lyrics to Verrazano Bridge are particularly poignant, and aptly express Locke’s fondness for Berg. I hope this track gets the ample airtime that it deserves.

I realized how much I missed Neil Young’s Birds, from Neil’s After the Gold Rush album, after hearing Washington caress Young’s tender lyrics. Cinema Paradiso, penned by Ennio Morricone, done with a string solo, honors this heartwarming film composition. Each mallet tone of Locke’s rings out with such emotion, and Keezer follows with a solo equally as lyrical.

For the Love of You closes out with another Locke instrumental track, Bright Side Up, in which the Keezer/Locke interplay is striking. Drummer Penn’s drumming spikes up the energy, and mention of the consummate bass veteran, George Mraz, must be included as well, as his beat is dependable as a Rolex.

Those that love Locke’s sparkling vibes work, mixed with warm vocals and a dynamite rhythm section, can’t go wrong with this new issue.

TrackList: Two for the Road, Old Devil Moon, For the Love of You, Verrazano Moon, I Miss New York (When I Been Gone Too Long), Birds, The Shadow of Your Smile, Cinema Paradiso, Pure Imagination, Bright Side Up

– Jeff Krow




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