Jackiem Joyner — Featured Smooth Jazz Artist Archives (2017)

Sept. 2017

Jackiem Joyner – The Epitome of the Maturation of Quality Smooth Jazz

Smooth jazz saxman Jackiem Joyner is a man of many talents. As well as reaching stratospheric heights with his horn playing, his writing talent is also blasting off into a different orbit. His debut novel, Zarya – Cyndus Final Hope, about a teenaged girl’s fight to save her world from the clutches of a power-crazy dictatorship has received high praise following its release last year.

Joyner has loved Science Fiction ever since he was a child, fascinated by all the stories and imaginations of futuristic worlds. Gathering from his experiences traveling the world as a recording artist, he developed a knack for good science fiction stories after reading several books a month.

Joyner was born in 1980 in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of Dianne Joyner Barnes and Jackie Charles Ray Smith. Joyner inherited some of his musical gifts from his professional bass player father.

Joyner grew up in a Christian household while developing most of his musical sensibilities from singing in the church choir and playing drums behind up-tempo gospel songs.

In his teens, the saxman relocated with his family to Syracuse, NY, where he studied saxophone and played in the band under the leadership of his music teacher and mentor Lou Adams. While in high school, Joyner competed in the NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics or ACT-SO, (geared towards African Americans demonstrating academic, artistic and scientific prowess and expertise), taking top honours three years in a row in the categories of Instrumental Contemporary, Composition and Classical Music.

After high school, he moved back to Virginia, where Bishop Michael Patterson of the World Harvest Outreach Ministries in Newport News made him head of the music department. Joyner not only sharpened his keyboard and production skills in this capacity, he also had a chance to play for audiences in Nigeria, Sudan, and Kenya on a missionary trip in 2002. This experience helped the young saxophonist grow quickly as a musician and, by age 21, he had joined keyboardist Marcus Johnson’s band with which he toured from 2001 to 2004.

The year 2003 was a pivotal year for Joyner. An opportunity to play with the legendary Bobby Lyle gave him the chance to play at the Bermuda Jazz Festival, which also had Angela Bofill among the line-up, and it was she who suggested that Joyner participate in the 30-city tour with Ronnie Laws, Jean Carne, and herself that year. It was also the year that Joyner married his wife Lola, and together they relocated to Los Angeles, CA, so that Joyner could try to further his career in the music business.

In 2005, Joyner released his debut solo album, the independently-produced This Time Around. The album helped boost his profile, and, in 2007, he signed to trumpeter Rick Braun’s Artizen Music Group in time to release his sophomore album, BabySoul (my personal favourite, check out the understated funk groove of “In Love Again”). The first single “Stay with Me tonight” featured guitarist Peter White and reached #17 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts.

The following year, 2008, Joyner was named Smooth Jazz News Debut Artist of the Year and was featured on the cover of BMG magazine as his career began to blossom.

At the beginning of 2009, Artizen Music Group, founded by saxman Richard Ellliot and  trumpeter Rick Braun, was bought out by a larger record company, Mack Avenue Records, which also acquired several other smaller labels. Joyner went on to release his third album Lil Man Soul under Artistry Music, a contemporary jazz subdivision of Mack Avenue Records.

His first single from that album, “I’m Waiting for You” was an instant No.1 hit on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. It remained at the number one spot for 12 straight weeks. “I’m Waiting for You” went on to become the No.2 song of the year on the billboard charts and was also nominated for Song of the Year 2010 at the American Smooth Jazz Awards. The second single entitled “Take Me there” was released early 2010 and went to the No.1 spot on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts and remained there for 6 weeks straight.

Later that year, Joyner released his fourth album, the self-titled funk/pop/groove mix including Paul Jackson Jr on guitar and Kayta Matsuno on acoustic and electric guitar. The year 2010 was also the year that Joyner was presented with The Keys to The City by Mayor Stephanie Miner of Syracuse NY for Outstanding Achievement in Music along with a Proclamation of August 5, 2010, as “Jackiem Joyner Day.”

Revisiting his non-secular roots, Joyner issued the gospel-jazz Church Boy in 2012, which featured contributions from Kirk Whalum and Jonathan Butler. In 2014, Joyner released his fifth studio-album, and third for Mack Avenue, Evolve. An adventurous mix of smooth jazz and gospel, Evolve marked the first time Joyner wrote, arranged, and produced every track. Evolve also featured appearances from Gerald Albright and Keiko Matsui. That release placed his infectious melodies amidst futuristic electronic soundscapes.

Joyner’s latest release Main Street Beat, his sixth album, if you don’t count his 2005 independent release, coincides with his tenth anniversary as a recording artist. Of his latest release, Joyner says he approached crafting Main Street Beat with a three-pronged purpose. “I wanted to create something upbeat, fun to listen to and something to dance to. Main Street Beat originally started off as a straight funk record that eventually became some of that but a whole lot more as I allowed the creative process to have its way with me,” said Joyner who plays tenor, alto, soprano, and baritone saxophone on the release, often enriching the tracks by laying layer upon layer of horns to form a powerhouse sax section.

Now a proud father, the first single from the new album (“Trinity”) was named after his daughter. (Given his love of science fiction, dare I wonder if the Matrix had any influence here?) “My little girl played a huge role in inspiring this album. Having Trinity around during the writing process sparked an enormous font of creativity and really kicked my writing into high gear. The first single, named after her, really captures the excitement and joy of being a dad as well as the exciting little girl that she is. Trinity was right there in the studio during a lot of the writing process. Her jumpy and bouncy upbeat little self is really reflected on this album,” said Joyner.

The Smooth Jazz Ride’s very own Ronald Jackson sums Joyner up beautifully when he says “Jackiem Joyner is a saxophonist with a firm grip on some of the sweetest melodies and driving grooves ever to be delivered to the contemporary genre. Not only is he perfectly fitted for the genre and mightily skilled, he is a humble, kind, and down-to-earth artist who has his direction clearly in sight.” I’d like to add: And he can write a bit too!! – Steve Giachardi

To view Jackiem Joyner’s complete discography, click here.