Joey Berkley Reviews on AllAboutJazz
(Published: January 07, 2010)
Joey Berkley | Self Produced
By Mark F. Turner
A single listen to the pop/jazz standard
"Nature Boy" is proof that saxophonist Joey
Berkley's tenor is as robust and accomplished
as they come. Living in New York since the
late 1970s, the Canadian expat has survived
and thrived in the "City That Never
Sleeps" performing with top musicians,
running his own music company and teaching,
while maintaining a couple of bands including
the nine-piece jazz/funk Band, Funkasaurus Rex.
More 'n Four is a straight-ahead release-a continuation and extension
of his debut quartet release, Made in NYC (A-Records, 1999)-that is
steeped in the sounds of saxophone greats Dexter Gordon, John
Coltrane and Michael Brecker, as well as younger players including
Wayne Escoffery and Jerome Sabbagh. The purpose and passion is
heard through Berkley's continuing artistic expression, one that
balances a powerful tone with glowing lyricism.
The same treatment of "Nature Boy"-once sung by the superb crooner
Nat King Cole--is present in Berkeley's reeded voice--the familiar
shimmering glissando (with horn section), as the saxophonist's horn
sings the gorgeous melody. Things move to full uptown swing with
"Push," the momentum provided by ace rhythm section Joris Teepe
(bass), Tony Jefferson (drums) and Gary Deinstadt (drums). "Naked
Flight"'s modality is just as hip; a blues with street swagger.
The band shines again on another tune sung by Cole, the classic "The
More I See You." The dexterity and emotion of Berkeley's solo sends
shivers up and down the spine. While his soprano's tonality is not as
impressive, he still has the juice on "The Alamo," but it's tunes such as "Don't Look Down" that prove his abilities as a player, writer and
arranger of multiple voices and intricate rhythmic changes.
The icing on this cake is applied liberally on "Is There No Escape,"
where Tony Jefferson's drumming and searing tenor obliterate the
heady bop tune. Berkeley is serious. Let's have more of More 'n Four.
Track Listing: Nature Boy; Push; Naked Flight; Unsung; The More I
See You; The Alamo; Don't Look Down; A Peace Missing; Is There No
Personnel: Joey Berkley: tenor and soprano saxophones; Gary
Deinstadt: piano; Joris Teepe: bass; Tony Jefferson: drums; Lew
Soloff: trumpet; Tom Christensen: tenor sax; Larry Farrell: trombone;
Chris Komer: French horn; Ed Xiques: baritone sax; Loren Stillman:
Joey Berkley & Funkasaurus Rex: More'n Four / Etched in Stone
By Woodrow Wilkins
Some jazz musicians have a knack for variety. There are those who specialize in a specific genre, but there are others who prefer to come at
the listener from different directions. Saxophonist Joey Berkley is among the latter.
Berkley hails from Toronto but has made his home in New York City. In NYC, he has worked a variety of venues including The Apollo Theatre,
Birdland and Radio City Music Hall. He works as a sideman, but also leads several ensembles.
Joey Berkley Quartet
More 'n Four
Mouth Piece Music
Berkley's quartet is featured on More 'n Four, with Gary Deinstadt on piano, Joris Teepe on bass and Tony Jefferson
on drums. Additional horn players are also part of the mix.
"Naked Flight," one of five original songs, has Berkley on tenor. The piece begins slowly, with the horn section softly
responding to Berkley's lead. The intensity and amplification pick up a bit before the song shifts to Deinstadt's solo. Bass and drums stretch
out as the piano goes through its paces. The horns come in briefly for a dramatic buildup. Jefferson adds more emphasis when Berkley takes
over. The tenor goes through a frenetic series of rolls. The song becomes a free-for-all as Berkley is joined by three other sax players, each
carving his own path.
"Unsung," another original, is a fast-paced tune that again highlights Berkley and Deinstadt. Jefferson's solo sets up a duet between himself
and Berkley that precedes the closing sequence.
Etched In Stone
Mouth Piece Music
For a change of pace, Funkasaurus Rex features Berkley exclusively on tenor sax, and with a bigger band. On Etched
in Stone, he funks up some classic soul and R&B hits.
"But It's Alright" begins the set. Seth Glassman's electric bass line is a highlight, as well as John Tropea's guitar solo.
Other musicians also contribute trumpet and saxophone solos. An all-out horn section blast climaxes the song before it reverts to the
Tropea leads the verses on the "Can't Hide Love." The horns give it an Earth Wind & Fire meets Tower of Power feel. Chris Parker's tom rolls
help emphasize the bridge between chorus and verse. Bill Harris performs a David Sanborn-like alto sax solo that's punctuated heavily by
bass, drums and the other horns. Chris Coogan solos on keyboard, followed by Berkley on tenor sax. After another run-through of the verse,
Tropea stretches out. The rest of the band slowly transitions into the chant that closes EW&F's original recording while the guitar ad-libs.
The two releases capture two moods of Berkley: the acoustic traditionalist and the contemporary funk master.
Tracks and Personnel
More 'n Four
Tracks: Nature Boy; Push; Naked Flight; Unsung; The More I See You; The Alamo; Don't Look Down; A Peace Missing; Is There No Escape?
Personnel: Joey Berkley: tenor and soprano saxophones; Gary Deinstadt: piano; Joris Teepe: bass; Tony Jefferson: drums; Lew Soloff:
trumpet; Tom Christensen: tenor sax; Larry Farrell: trombone; Chris Komer: French horn; Ed Xiques: baritone sax; Loren Stillman: alto sax.
Etched In Stone
Tracks: But It's Alright; Can't Hide Love; Tachedogbe; PMS; Samia; If I Ever Lose This Heaven; Six Beauties on a Rooftop; Mighty Love.
Personnel: Joey Berkley: tenor saxophone; Bill Harris: alto saxophone and flute; Tony Kadleck: trumpet; Brian Pareschi: trumpet; Jens
Wendelboe: trombone; Chris Coogan: piano and keyboards; John Tropea: guitar; Seth Glassman: bass; Chris Parker: drums and percussion.
More Information: http://www.joeyberkley.com