Boldly melodic & as colorful as any beat in his music, is Joey Berkley’s wit as a player & composer. The track “Alamo” is a stunning showcase of talents for this sensational musician. Jazz has always been defined by its greatest minds as opposed to its most impressive muscle, but in this domineering effort, Berkley shows us that it takes a little bit of both to make people take notice of this style of music in 2023.
There are a lot of layers to the mix in this piece, but there’s nothing in the instrumental construction that feels overcomplicated from a critical perspective. Instead of favoring a simplistic, minimalist-inspired concept as many of his contemporaries have been in recent times, Joey Berkley chases a larger-than-life melodicism in “Alamo” that isn’t easy to capture within the four walls of a recording studio. His adept management of this multidimensional composition speaks volumes about his skill, and perhaps more important than that, the organic talent he brings to the game with him.
The saxophone parts in this track are a wonderful accentuation to the beat component, and despite the prominent place in the arrangement, they never steal any of the thunder away from the other elements here. It’s difficult to pull together the dynamics being presented to us in “Alamo” without coming off as more than a little experimental – particularly compared to 2023’s mainstream output thus far – but that’s where Berkley’s Jazz training comes in handy. He isn’t intimidated by ‘mathy’ structures; if anything, he embraces them with open arms in a track like this one.
There’s emotion for us to consider in almost every angle of “Alamo,” and whether you take the song for its surface narrative or choose to dig deeper into its meaning, it’s a powerful listen at any rate.
If you love captivating Jazz players with an ear for smooth harmonies when it counts the most, Joey Berkley is an artist you need to be listening to this year. This scene has become all too politicized by many of the Jazz genre’s most well-highlighted critical voices, but in “Alamo,” it finds a soundtrack worthy of the integrity behind its creation. 2023 is turning out to be a fantastic year for independent players, and for those of us who can’t get enough of a good song, this is one of the season’s most spirited independent artists so far. We await more news on his developments.