By Alan Grey : The Vindicator
Get ready for a dance party when Jackiem Joyner performs at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre.
The smooth jazz artist who plays both saxophone and flute said he tailors his set to the venue, and an outdoor concert like Youngstown Wine and Jazz on July 17 demands a more high-energy show.
“It’s a different set and mood in a club vs. performing at a festival,” Joyner said. “In a club, it’s more close quarters, a more intimate setting. When you’re performing there on stage at a bigger festival, you give them a rock star show … The plusses are we can really throw down, have a lot of fun, get a party thing going on. The downside is some of the more intimate songs — which are really, really great songs — we generally don’t play. We reserve those for that indoor, intimate setting. When you’re kind of far away, you don’t get that same connection.”
Joyner expects those outdoor shows to be even more exuberant after a year of limited opportunities due to COVID-19.
“I went an entire year without doing any shows. That’s the longest I’ve ever gone,” he said, and he described those first shows back as magical. “There was a renewed synergy between myself and the audience and the band that created an excellent experience.”
Joyner had no trouble keeping busy while off the road. He released the five-song EP “Journey of Passion,” which was created, produced, and performed during the pandemic.
“I’m accustomed to composing my albums while performing, getting feedback from the audience,” he said. “I didn’t have that this time around.”
A new single is planned for August and a Christmas track will be released closer to the holidays.
He became more adept at creating videos for YouTube and social media as a way to stay connected with his fans, and those are skills he believes will be useful even as things return to normal. And he created a master class to help other aspiring musicians navigate the obstacles of recording and releasing their music. He plans to relaunch the class on his website (jackiemjoyner.com) in September.
Joyner also didn’t limit himself to music. He finished his second novel, “Minor Assassin, which was released last fall, and he may be one of the only musicians who have a book club on his website.
“It’s not that easy to write and tour at the same time,” Joyner said, but he believes both pursuits feed the other. “It helps me remain structured in my writing. Writing is you throw a bunch of garbage on paper, turn it into a little less garbage, and eventually, it becomes something someone can read. It’s the same process in music.”
He’d love to see one of his books become the basis for a movie or television series, but the music remains his primary focus.
Joyner has released seven albums since 2007 that spawned five top 10 jazz singles and two songs that topped the Billboard contemporary jazz chart. Five of those albums were released by Mack Avenue Records, the same jazz label that is home to Warren native Sean Jones. Joyner said he’s a fan of Jones’ music, but they’ve never had an opportunity to collaborate.
And it’s not like Joyner lacks musical partners. He’s worked with such artists as George Duke, Marcus Miller, Keiko Matsui, Donnie McClurkin, Angela Bofill, and Kirk Whalum and toured in more than 30 countries. His last full-length album, 2019’s “Touch,” included guest appearances by Najee and Peter White.
“I’ve learned a lot performing with some amazing artists,” he said.
If you go …
WHAT: Youngstown Wine and Jazz featuring Jackiem Joyner
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. July 17
WHERE: Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, 201 S. Phelps St., Youngstown
HOW MUCH: $25 and $10 and are available through Ticketmaster.