A sensuous saxophone. A majestic bassline’s gentle harmony, forged beside an urban but distant melodic core.
When you take these elements and put them under the direction of a composer like Joey Berkley, magic is bound to happen, and that’s precisely the case with his new single, “Alamo.” In “Alamo,” Berkley puts his Jazz abilities at the forefront of the performance, leaving cosmetics to the side and striking a rhythm with little more than a pensive drumbeat and the cadence of his sax play inside of a short but still quite sweet gem. His play is always at the center of the master mix, serving as a sonic linchpin binding all of the different instrumental components together in a singular melodic wave, yet he doesn’t overpower his backing band at all. Here, Berkley proves that he has the chops to balance melodic complexities with heartfelt lyricism, tipping his hat to the forerunners of the old guard in Jazz whilst carving his own identity for listeners to enjoy at the same time.
“Alamo” is conceptually spellbinding, but I wouldn’t say that the virtuosity with which Berkley plays in this track is the only agent of evocation present. On the contrary, there’s a lot of emotional substance to the relationship between the instruments, particularly when the groove steps back to let a bop-influenced swing take center stage.
The bass and the saxophone get into an all-out duel for our affections just past the mid-song mark, and considering the depth that their harmony adds to the tone of the track, I don’t think this single would be nearly as engaging were they replaced with simpler instrumental elements. I can see “Alamo” being a showstopper in a live setting, where Berkley could really flex some muscle at the helm of the band and perhaps stir up even more of the potent chemistry already found in spades here. He’s got an incredible skill set, and when matched with his ability to fit into an elaborate arrangement like the one found in this song, it makes him quite the rare treasure this winter indeed.
Though I’m just now getting into the music of Joey Berkley, I’m ready for more of his melodic charms after finding myself utterly swept away by the craftsmanship in “Alamo.” There are a lot of credible musicians coming out of the indie Jazz community at the moment, but I haven’t heard many boasting the elegant demeanor that this saxman is from beginning to end here. His prowess in the studio is something to be praised, and as long as he can continue to produce music with the same amount of passion that he has in this remarkably magnetizing sample of his work, I think he’s going to have a huge following behind him.
This is one heck of an introduction to his audience. The momentum he’s enjoying right now won’t be slowing down anytime soon. If anything, it’s going to get much stronger. Let’s wait and see what he does next, we are ready to support him.
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