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Sticks and Strings

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Album Review

Joe Locke, through his solid career as a premier jazz vibraphonist, has collaborated with pianists and saxophonists as front line mates, but never a guitarist. Jonathan Kreisberg, a talented newcomer, is Locke's foil for this very interesting set of post-'70s jazz fusion, original modern modal, and mainstream music. A symmetry between the two instruments with their shimmering chordal qualities works very well, supported by the excellent bassist Jay Anderson, and longtime unsung hero of jazz drumming Joe La Barbera. The first cut, Anderson's witty "Time Like the Present" jumps out, using quick time shifts in 6/8 and 7/8 before settling into 3/4. 7/8 is also utilized in the quirky upbeat neo-bopper "The Rosario Material." LaBarbera struts his stuff on a definitive hard bop road song "Appointment in Orvieto" — their use of restrained dynamics is impressive. This harnessing of volume levels shows up frequently as in the low key modal refrains infused in the standard "All of You," the spirit soul/R&B based "A Word Before You Go," and the Latin tinged "Terzani," which reflects the partnership of the ultimate vibes-guitar pairing in contemporary jazz, that of Gary Burton and Pat Metheny. Locke wrote five of the nine selections, and they display his emerging talent in building memorable melodies, but La Barbera is also at it on the finale "Sixth Sense," a darker blues/jazz underground, stealth and steely composition. The guitarist plays varying shades and colors on electric, amplified and acoustic guitars, but it is his bright invention, so in tune with and listening closely to Locke's vibes, that makes this partnership succeed. If you are a fan of Locke you are going to enjoy this recording, while jazz guitar mavens need to pay attention to the nimble fingered rising star Jonathan Kreisberg. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Sticks and Strings, Joe Locke Quartet
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