When acclaimed tenor saxophonist and educator Keith Oxman learned that one of his former students, bassist Joey Pearlman, had passed away in February 2021 at the age of 24, Oxman decided to create a recording paying tribute to the brilliant young man who’d already earned a place on the New York scene. The result is This One’s for Joey, out April 15, 2022 via Capri Records.
This One’s for Joey features Oxman’s quartet with pianist Jeff Jenkins, bassist Mark Simon and drummer Todd Reid, as well as Joey and his twin brother Stevie on the Coltrane standard “John Paul Jones,” recorded when the twins were 17.
The album also features Joey’s composition “Garden Song,” written when he was Oxman’s student at Denver’s East High School. (Other jazz greats who’ve graduated from the school are the late trumpeter/cornetist Ron Miles, guitarist Bill Frisell, jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves and, in the early 1900s, bandleader Paul Whiteman.)
A highlight of the album is the Coltrane standard “John Paul Jones” featuring Oxman with bassist Joey and his twin brother Stevie on drums, recorded in June 2014 when the twins were 17. The album also features Joey’s composition “Garden Song,” written when he was in high school. Oxman says about this tune, ”Joey’s writing has great emotional depth and brilliance, no matter where the piece falls on a spectrum of relative complexity.”
Oxman penned the title track as well as six others. Jeff Jenkins, another of the twins’ teachers as a member of the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts (CCJA), wrote “Waltz for Joey” as well as “Kahlid,” a piece he composed for organist Larry Young. The remaining tunes are Oscar Levant and Edward Heyman’s “Blame it on My Youth,” famously recorded by both Nat Cole and later Chet Baker, and “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” the David Mann piece used as the title track from Frank Sinatra’s 1955 classic album. Performing are Oxman’s quartet with pianist Jeff Jenkins, bassist Mark Simon and drummer Todd Reid.
“After thirty years of teaching music, I can count a handful of accomplished students who were destined to accomplish great feats. Notable among those students was the brilliant bassist Joey Pearlman, whose music and personality brightened every day for us at East High School,” says Oxman. “Joey was taken from this world too soon. His presence brought joy to our music room as he challenged us with his brilliant compositions and performances. Joey’s musical influence on his classmates, as well as his one-of-a-kind sense of humor, had an undeniable and positive influence on what was really most important in our program: Human and musical interaction.”
Denver has a close-knit jazz scene and it’s because of that comradery this recording was made,” said Thomas Burns of Capri Records. “Most involved contributed their time and some their money to make this a reality.”
Other alumni of East High School include the late trumpeter/cornetist Ron Miles, guitarist Bill Frisell, jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves and, in the early 1900s, bandleader Paul Whiteman.