Joe Locke has spent the last two and a half decades providing surefooted, exciting mallet work to every opus to which he lends his name. Speaking of his name, you can find it at or near the top of all the important polls every year. But don’t let his dependability lull you into complacency regarding his work. He’s as electrifying as jazz musicians come.
Trio Da Paz have been around for almost two decades and play Brazilian music with fire and formidable technique. Their flash and panache comes to the fore especially on "Pro Flavio," a composition by guitarist Romero Lubambo, who turns the flame all the way up on his solo following bassist Nilson Matta’s amazing ride. Then drummer Duduka Da Fonseca tops it all off with a solo of barely controlled wildness.
That piece of joy follows two tunes that show off Mr. Locke admirably. The opener, "Dona Maria" (by drummer Da Fonseca) is a pulsating storm from start to finish, with Locke winning solo honors. The second work "Copacabana" is a teaser, with surprising rhythmic subtlety nearly hidden by an almost-too-pretty melodic job on both composition and soloing. After the fire of "Pro Flavio," Locke’s "Sword of Whispers" brings an almost ECM quality to the proceedings, calming things nicely with especially melodic solos by Locke and Matta.
"Bachião" gets its immense furor from a duet by Locke and Lubambo, which is done with and without backing from the rhythm section. The CD is rounded out by three standards, two by Jobim ("Wave" and "Look to the Sky"), and the perennial "All the Things You Are." They only slightly bring the level of enthusiasm down.
In the press release we’re told that the concert from which this CD, Live At JazzBaltica came, was voted one of the most outstanding concert events of 2007 by the German magazine "Jazzthetik." No doubt, no doubt....