Born and raised in New York, Joe LoCascio has made Houston his permanent home since 1977. He attended the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut where he studied with John Mehegan and Neil Slater. A prolific performer and composer, LoCascio has twelve albums as a leader to his credit and has recorded or performed with jazz luminaries such as recording and performing with the likes of Chet Baker, Tim Hagans, Randy Brecker, Freddie Hubbard, Dave Liebman, Ernie Watts, Tony Campise, George Mraz, George Coleman, Hank Crawford and countless others.
"When you hear a composition for the first time, the artists have to win you over twice, with their writing and their playing.This can be a challange, though not apparently for Joe LoCascio , whose In The City Of Lost Things succeeds on more than one level. LoCascio's compositions allow room for ideas to flow along a linear path, like a stream through stones that mark his changes. Meters slip in and out of 5/4 or even 11/8, though so smoothly as to not leave a ripple in their wake." - **** (Four stars!) Robert Doerschuk, DownBeat Magazine
On In The City Of Lost Things (Heart Music), Joe LoCascio's compositions are versatile, with melodies that sparkle and flow, building a Bolero-like intensity. He has an affinity for fashioning the harmonically complex into the simply beautiful. LoCascio has dazzled since his 1986 debut; what's impressive is the way his talent continues to grow. - Jeff McCord, Texas Monthly
"In The City Of Lost Things may signal his finest recorded hour. Simply stated, Locascio plays all the right notes. Consisting of swirling chord clusters, fluid single note runs and tuneful melodies, the pianist and his crack rhythm section skirt that rather opaque division between mainstream and progressive jazz fare. Overall, this superfine unit sustains continual interest. And if you’ve become complacent with the endless and sometimes ho hum stream of jazz piano outings, then this gem will most assuredly warrant your attention. - Glenn Astarita, allaboutjazz.com
"Edgy and out and yet still unmistakably refined, LoCascio spins his tales of ghosts and dancing rodents that leap buoyantly through the sonic landscape. In the national spotlight since the 90’s, LoCascio continues to write poetry at the keys. One of the most creative and captivating trios of musicians performing anywhere, these performances would be ones not to miss". - Michele Brangwen Arts Houston Magazine
" Pianist and composer Joe Locascio has been one of Houston’s musical treasures for over two decades. As a pianist he has been at the forefront of modern jazz, recording and performing with the likes of Chet Baker, Tim Hagans, Randy Brecker, Freddie Hubbard, Dave Liebman, and countless others. As a composer, he's arguably one of the most gifted ever to call Houston home. His compositions, always strong melodically, lead listeners through a maze of unexpected twists punctuated with enticing harmonic content. His thirteenth album as a leader, "In the City of Lost Things" presents ten new compositions, all of them gems.
Locascio enlists Richard Cholakian on drums and Thomas Helton on upright bass for the trio on this date. Cholakian and Helton have made a name for themselves as a sought-after drum/bass pair. They both possess a restless creativity that peaks their interest in a wide range of styles from avant-garde to Delta Blues. Teamed up with Locascio, you get an immediate sense of the group's genuine camaraderie. It's a well-matched ensemble and certainly one the more interesting trios around.
Here he capitalizes on the unique nature of this group by creating music with extended trio interplay both during the melody and on the expansive improvised sections. The centerpiece of this style comes early on the second track, “Sonia Braga”. Ms. Braga is a well-known Brazilian actress (well-known in Brazil, that is: her claim to US fame is “Kiss of the Spiderwoman”). The piece honors its namesake with a sultry groove that spans eight minutes. It features an electrifying Arco solo from Thomas Helton, which stands the track on its head most wonderfully.
The trio explodes on “Port of Call”. The piece gets an extra boost from the left-hand/bass doublings which contrast the spry melody. The solos all around are brief but potent. As evidenced the ever-shifting dynamics of the next track “The Wall of Sleep”, Locascio can masterfully create many moods within a piece. It is these sorts of variations in the pulse of his writing that contribute to such a rich experience for the listener.
One can always expect a beautiful ballad on any of Locascio’s albums. “In the City of Lost Things” does so with “Julian”. Again, the arrangements make this tune even more striking. Cholakian’s innovative brush work (not just on the snare!) counterbalances the arc of the song and ensuing solo. This may be the CD's strongest track, but I’m a sucker for a good ballad.
“ Under a Pink Moon” is a nod in the direction of Bill Evans, particularly in the devices heard throughout his solo, yet the composition feels like something Herbie Hancock might assemble. Either way, it’s a wonderful representation of Locascio’s impressive pianism. The momentum continues on “Our Story” before concluding with a lively solo piece called “Hopalong”. Aptly titled and filled with a playful energy, it's a nice coda to an otherwise serious program. It also reminds us what a fine solo player he is.
One interesting aspect to this set of compositions is the use of odd meters throughout. Often such devices can seem deliberate to the point of being contrived. But in Locascio’s hands, the meter becomes completely germane to the composition. The opening track is in 5/4, as is “The Wall of Sleep”. The title track is in 11/4. These meter variations give pop to the individual tracks while adding life to the CD as a whole.
In the end, a Locascio CD is a guarantee of great playing, great compositions, and something you can revisit often. "In The City of Lost Things" is no exception. Highly recommended." - Andrew Lienhard, jazzhouston.com
" If you are a piano trio fan and you like to listen to new original music, then "Close To So Far" is a recording not to miss. He combines many styles within his playing from stride to bebop to modal. In general his approach is very modern utilizing bitonality, dissonance, and extended harmonies. LoCascio has a thorough sense of harmony as well as rhythm and it is a pleasure to hear all three musicians work with such artistry. This is a very flexible recording as the new jazz fan can enjoy its listener friendly quality while the experienced listener can enjoy traveling inside the music with its various twists and turns. Tastefully done!" - Michelle Labieniec-Despard. Jazz Improv
" LoCascio's playing on Close To So Far, like his writing (all the tracks are his originals), is heady, clean and crisply swinging, and while he describes his writing and playing as "linear," he's downplaying his strongest quality: texture....gorgeous ballads." Harvy Siders, JazzTimes Magazine
" His technical facility, harmonic sophistication and fluid melodic lines" Paul McArthur, DownBeat Magazine
" A great deal of inventiveness.....a very fine set indeed...highly recommended" Lawrence Brazier, Jazznow
" LoCascio unravels some rather otherworldly progressions that drape the composition with an extra layer of mystery and intrigue". Keith Zimmerman , Yellow Dog Jazz
" Close To So Far"is very satisfying, by an artist who merits being included among the best of his contemporary piano playing peers. Recommended. - Dave Nathan, allmusicguide.com
I wonder why this pianist never seems to be mentioned in any of the recent hardcover jazz volumes. The authors and editors of these large tomes are bypassing a treasure. “Close To So Far” features the pianist in a trio format performing a full package of his own compositions. Accompanied by bassist John Adams and the very nimble drummer Tim Solook, LoCascio has produced a real gem. Like the late Vince Guaraldi, Joe LoCascio is a piano-playing storyteller. His compositions bring visions to the mind of the listener. From the opening “Turnabout” to the playful “Idiot’s Delight”, the artist toys with the listener’s mind, generating delightful illusions.
-- Richard Bourcier, Jazz Review
" LoCascio displays a certain melodicism in his compositions and a warm yet dark complexity to his playing that compliment each other quite well. These qualities hint at Keith Jarrett and Lennie Tristano on either extreme but copy neither." - Jay Trachtenberg, Austin Chronicle
" LoCascio reaches the level of ensemble excitement which surrounded Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk...Idiosyncratic melodies, eccentric chording and delightful colors...Sophisticated dynamics and phrasing...This critic eagerly awaits it (his next release)." - JazzTimes Magazine
" Elegantly honed album." - Billboard Magazine
" LoCascio shows off his considerable talents as keyboardist, leader, and composer...he can swing mightily...the quality of musicianship and writing is very high." - Jazz Now Magazine
" Silent Motion establishes LoCascio as a national-class pianist." - Houston Chronicle
" LoCascio continues to play at the edge...one must either work like hell to keep up with him or get out of the way. The ride is worth it. Joe LoCascio is a poet at the keyboard." - Houston Public News
" LoCascio is a musician whose creative inner flame burns so clean and pure the fire within is near invisible even while the light and heat of his playing radiates in all directions." - Austin-American Statesman
" As a composer, LoCascio takes an unshakeable command of mainstream jazz." - Houston Press
" LoCascio has penned some mesmerizing melodies...all conceived and dispatched with great care and creativity...Soph and Adams have a brilliant way of reading LoCascio's mind." - Houston Post
" The performances are quite spirited, the leader works well with bassist John Adams and drummer Ed Soph, and the amount of variety and strong melodies keep this set continually interesting and make this (Silent Motion) Joe LoCascio's most rewarding jazz recording to date." - Cadence Magazine
" LoCascio is, quite simply, a world-class talent and fully developed stylist whose keyboard creations are the equal of numerous better-known piano stars." - Austin-American Statesman
" LoCascio's strong sense of melody is elegantly realized...one of the finest artists on the contemporary jazz scene. " - Jazziz Magazine