Joe Locke: Lay Down My Heart: Blues & Ballads Vol.1 (2013)
Featuring the strong drumming voice of Jaimeo Brown, the music begins to sparkle on a dynamic rendition of the familiar R&B legend Bill Withers tune "Ain't No Sunshine" and continues to shine on the Locke original "Broken Toy" highlighting more of the leader's musical charm with the help of pianist Ryan Cohan. Locke is on fire taking "Bittersweet" on quite a swinging ride with stellar solos matched this time by, bassist Finck on what is essentially, an up tempo hard blues number in a soft setting repertoire. Borrowing from Bobby Troup, the music returns to a more tender texture on the beautiful "The Meaning of the Blues" then reemerges in a delicious contemporary romp on the vibrant Frank Foster composition "Simone."
Offering the only solo vibraphone introduction of the set, "This New October" is the only other original of the album offering a gentle harmonic piece of music displaying more of Locke's appreciable chops on the instrument and vote for one of the outstanding tracks of the disc. Walter Donaldson's familiar "Makin' Whoopee" gets a whole new read in an arrangement that slows down the pace yet keeps the discernible melody intact serving as one of the balladic pieces of the set.
Sticking with the ballad side of the music, Locke closes the music with the Sammy Cahn standard "Dedicated To You" in a seemingly call and response dialogue with pianist Cohan on what is definitely an album highlight. Master vibraphonist Joe Locke does something really special with Lay Down My Heart: Blues & Ballads Vol.1 showcasing the lighter side of his music propelled by gentle ballads and bluesy notes in the first of hopefully many theme-styled recordings yet to come.
Track Listing: Ain't No Sunshine; Broken Toy; Bittersweet; I Can't Make You Love Me; The Meaning of the Blues; Simone; This New October; Makin' Whoopee; Dedicated To You.
Personnel: Joe Locke: vibraphone; Jaimeo Brown: drums; Ryan Cohan: piano; David Finck: bass.
Record Label: Motema Music