Born in Palo Alto, California, but raised in Rochester, New York, Joe Locke is regarded by many to be the vibraphonist of his generation. Although a self-taught improviser, he benefited from his early studies in classical percussion and composition at the Eastman School of Music with John Beck, Gordon Stout, Ted Moore, and Warren Benson. As a jazz musician, Locke was precocious, having played with such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie and Mongo Santamaria before he was even out of high school.
Since moving to New York City in 1981, Joe has performed with Grover Washington Jr., Kenny Barron, Dianne Reeves, Eddie Daniels, Jerry Gonzales's Fort Apache Band, Elvis Costello, the Beastie Boys, Eddie Henderson, Hiram Bullock, Ron Carter, the Mingus Big Band, and Randy Brecker, among many others.
Joe has toured extensively throughout the world, both as leader and guest soloist. Some highlights include a 16-city tour of Russia, which culminated in a concert with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of world-renowned violist Yuri Bashmet; a 30-city tour of all major capitals of Europe, performing Charles Mingus's magnum opus, Epitaph, as a featured soloist under the direction of distinguished conductor Gunther Schuller; and a series of volcanic duet concerts in Italy with pianist Cecil Taylor, where Joe went head to head for three nights with the undisputed high priest of the avant-garde.
The critical community continually cites Joe for his artistic work. "There seems little doubt that Locke, with his ability to play cool and funky, heady and relaxed, is set to become the pre-eminent vibraphonist in jazz." (The Times, London).
This year Joe was voted the #1 vibist in Down Beat Magazine's critic's poll (TDWR) and Brazil's international jazz poll. Locke has recorded 16 CDs as a bandleader, including the Grammy-nominated Moment to Moment, a tribute to the music of Henry Mancini. As a sideman, he appears on more than 40 recordings.
Joe is currently on the faculty of the New School in New York City. Joe Locke endorses Ross Mallet Instruments and Pro-Mark Mallets exclusively.
Manhattan School of Music faculty since 1994.