Joe Locke & 4 Walls of Freedom "Dear Life" [SJL1025]
"For unremitting brilliance it would be difficult to match this quartet".
The verdict is in. Joe Locke & 4 Walls of Freedom are guilty of providing fans and critics with some of the most exciting improvised music around. With tenor sax maestro Tommy Smith and bassist extraordinaire Ed Howard invited to join the band, one thing was certain - there would be no let-up in the incredible approach this group has to making interesting and dynamic music - something this ensemble has become famous for.
With the sad passing of Bob Berg, it was important that a player with a strong personal identity should occupy the tenor saxophone chair. Enter Tommy Smith, a remarkable musician in his own right who has collaborated with John Scofield, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano and many others. Like two great artists (Rembrandt & Renoir?) Smith and Berg paint with different brushes, but their artistry is always of the highest order. Thus, on this wonderful studio recording, new ideas and soundscapes are developed, and new vistas are explored - while the same intensity and beauty remain.
The decision to keep this unique band concept as a working unit has been fully justified with the release of this nine-track musical tour-de force. "Dear Life" is without doubt a more than worthy addition to the burgeoning catalogue of fine albums from vibes master Joe Locke, and one that reinforces his position amongst the very top artists of the day.