Born in Toronto, Canada and moving to New York City in 1978, Joey Berkley has dedicated his life to music as a tenor saxophonist and composer. His interest in music began early with the encouragement of his mother who was a jazz singer. After experimenting with guitar, drums, piano and then clarinet, the saxophone eventually took its hold at the age of 13, and over the next several years became the nucleus of his creativity as he began to discover jazz for himself. He received the Roy Smith Memorial Award and the Morris Weinzweig Memorial Award for proficiency in woodwinds before graduating with honors from the music performance program at Humber College, Toronto, Canada. While at Humber Joey was a member of the "A Band" which toured Europe and performed at the famous Montreux Jazz Festival. In 1980 and 1981 Joey was awarded Canada Council Grants and received funds to study saxophone in New York with Eddie Daniels.
Migrating south in the late-seventies, Joey immersed himself in the competitive New York City jazz scene. The musician benefited from his experiences in Manhattan, and maintains that these early years of struggling were not only necessary, but also crucial to his musical development. In fact, his CD that was released in 1999 and marks his debut as the bandleader of the Joey Berkley Quartet, is aptly titled "Made in NYC." The disc, which features many of Joey's original compositions, came out on A-Records.
Joey has a long history of studio work from jingles to laying down a solo on a pop tune. As a freelance musician in the NYC club scene he has performed with a variety of bands from jazz to rock to funk in many of the prestigious venues past and present - The Village Gate, The Apollo, Radio City Music Hall and the Bottom Line.
With his quartet in tow, Joey has hit the stages of New York City jazz spots such as Birdland and The Jazz Forum and been featured at the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival. Radio and TV exposure includes WBGO with Gary Walker and Cablevision's News Channel 12 Westchester performing selections from "Made in NYC."
Moving from NYC in the mid 1990's Joey has made Westchester his home expanding his playing-field to include clubs and concerts in Westchester and in Connecticut, while he manages a much in demand private teaching schedule. At Fox Lane Middle and High School in Bedford, New York he has been an artist-in-residence for over 7 years giving woodwind instruction and lending his guidance to their jazz ensembles including jazz improvisation classes. With over 30 years experience as a professional musician Joey has become a much sought-after music educator and performer.
In 2002 Joey co-founded the Westchester Jazz Orchestra. As a member of this renowned line up of musicians from 2002 to 2007 Joey also served as its Artistic and Educational Director. WJO is a nonprofit jazz organization which has established itself as a premiere band and continues to promote jazz through a dual commitment to performance and education.
Joey has also created another exciting group Funkasaurus Rex which is a nine piece funk band made up of some of the best known and talented NY players. Writing and performing with this band is an important part of an already busy schedule for Joey.
As a musician who needs variety for his musical talents Joey enjoys the challenge of performing with Four Good Reeds, a saxophone quartet he put together which plays a mixture of classical and jazz repertoire and demands a very high level of musicianship from all its members.
Whether sharing his knowledge with a student, recording his music or frequenting the club and concert circuit with his various groups, Joey's talent has warranted fabulous reviews from The Jazz Times to The New York Times.
Mark Miller, music critic of Toronto Globe and Mail, wrote that Mr. Berkley is "working the ground between old John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins with no end of idiomatic facility."