Joe Locke & Christos Rafalides
Van Gogh by Numbers
If jazz is a marginalized genre and the vibraphone is a marginalized instrument within that genre, then Van Gogh by Numbers—an album of vibes and marimba duets—is clearly a first. But the idea of an intimate series of mallet duets will come as no surprise to listeners familiar with Joe Locke, who's been active for over two decades but has garnered considerably more attention in recent years. Whether with his own band, Four Walls of Freedom; his collaborative New Sound Quartet, with pianist Geoffrey Keezer; or on last year's Milt Jackson tribute, Rev-Elation (Sharp Nine, 2005), Locke's intrepid and flexible nature means he always finds the deepest meaning, regardless of context.
Throughout Van Gogh by Numbers Locke and Rafalides demonstrate the kind of shared understanding that explains why the duet is perhaps the most intimate of all possible musical ensembles. With only two players in the conversation, it's possible for each one to be totally focused on what the other is saying without interruption, and both Locke and Rafalides are sensitive listeners indeed.