About Joey Berkley

Tenor Saxophone; Clarinet; Flute
Composer; Arranger
Recording Artist

Born in Toronto, Canada and re-locating to New York City in 1978, Joey Berkley has dedicated his life to music as a tenor saxophonist, composer and educator. 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. By his second year of high-school, Joey realized that the saxophone and jazz had become a necessary path for his life. After high-school Joey attended the music performance program at Humber College in Toronto, Canada and graduated with honors. While at Humber, Joey received the Roy Smith Memorial Award and the Morris Weinzweig Memorial Award for proficiency in woodwinds. Joey was a member of the Humber “A Band” which toured Europe and performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Later in 1980 and 1981 Joey was awarded Canada Council Grants 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 struggle were not only necessary, but also crucial to his musical development.  His CD, released by A-Records in 1999, marked Joey’s debut as the bandleader of the Joey Berkley Quartet and featured many of Joey’s original compositions. The disc was aptly titled “Made in NYC.”  

Joey has a long history of studio work from jingles to laying down a solo on a pop tune. Both as a freelance musician and leader of his quartet, Joey has performed on a variety of prestigious stages past and present- The Beacon Theatre, The Village Gate, Birdland, The Apollo Theater, Radio City Music Hall, BB King’s and the Bottom Line. Trips back to his hometown have included performances at the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival.  Radio and TV exposure include NY’s jazz-station WBGO with Gary Walker and Cablevision’s “Living Arts” and “News Channel 12 Westchester” 

Moving from NYC in the mid 1990’s Joey made Westchester his home and expanded his playing-field to include clubs and concerts in Westchester and Connecticut, while managing a demanding private teaching schedule. At Fox Lane Middle and High School in Bedford, NY Mr. Berkley has served as the Woodwind Specialist for over 15 years. The “artist-in-residence” is also director of the Fox Lane HS and MS Jazz Ensembles. With almost 40 years experience as a professional musician Joey is a highly sought-after music educator invited to run a variety of educational forums from a jazz-improv workshop to tightening up a saxophone section. Joey was honored to receive a nomination for the inaugural Grammy Foundation Music Educator Award 2014. 

In 2002 Joey co-founded the Westchester Jazz Orchestra.  As an active band member of this renowned line up of musicians until 2007, Joey also served as its Artistic and Educational Director.  

In 2005, Joey incorporated Mouthpiecemusic LLC to unify all of his musical activities under one umbrella: The Joey Berkley Quartet (JB4), Funkasaurus Rex and Four Good Reeds are the premier performing groups contained within Mouthpiecemusic LLC. Under the leadership of Tenor Saxophonist Joey Berkley they perform a wide variety of musical styles from jazz to funk to classical with precision and style. From club to concert hall to recording studio, each band also serves as an instrument for teaching by conducting master-classes and “modeling” a high level of expertise and dedication while at the same time conveying ALL music as an art form. 

The Joey Berkley Quartet (JB4) is firmly rooted in the jazz tradition and features Joey’s original compositions and arrangements. The JB4 comes out swingin’ hard from the legacy of jazz greats Miles Davis, Monk and Coltrane. Joey has developed his “sound” by using these influences to create an original contemporary style, grabbing the listener with songs and playing that combines jazz with elements of funk, pop and classic R’n B.  

Funkasaurus Rex was created by Joey in 2005. Joey called upon a group of colleagues, top players on the NY “music-scene” to form this exciting jazz-funk band which injects “Jazz” sophistication into ‘Rhythm ‘n Blues’ and ‘Funk’. Whether bringing classic songs from the past into a new era with a jazz perspective, or introducing an original song from that same lineage, the band’s focus is always inventive writing, great solos and precision ensemble work. Maintaining artistic integrity, audiences have come to expect quality as the key.  A well-loved classic or a classy original, these veteran musicians bring authentic funk into the present with power, precision and sophistication. Featuring a huge five-member horn-section “sound” along with a tight rhythm-section “groove” Funkasaurus Rex says REAL Funky Music ain’t extinct! Writing and performing with this band is an important part of Joey’s schedule. 

Four Good Reeds consists of four saxophonists who are among the best in the NYC music community whether they are playing or teaching. Led by Tenor Saxophonist Joey Berkley and with a repertoire which includes music from both the classical and jazz idioms, this sax quartet offers listeners virtuosity with artistry in a direct intimate fashion. As a musician who needs variety for his musical talents Joey enjoys the challenge of performing with this ensemble.  

In 2009 Joey released his first educational DVD entitled “All Things Saxophone”. This release focuses on the fundamentals of sound and technique plus jazz improvisation basics. Earning praises from saxophonist on all levels, this DVD is enjoying success worldwide. 

As well, Joey’s current audio releases More ‘n Four (JB4); Etched in Stone and I Hear Voices (Funkasaurus Rex), along with the new 2013 instrumental single “No Blues for Vernon” are all receiving rave reviews from critics and the listening public worldwide. 

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-

A single listen to Nature Boy (More ‘n Four) is proof that saxophonist Joey Berkley’s tenor is as robust and accomplished as they come

Mark F. Turner AllAboutJazz