"Is there anything Joey Baron can't do? Put a tricky chart in front
of him, and he'll clarify complicated passages like a great actor
doing Shakespeare. Turn him loose on simpler forms, and his witty
phrasing and impossibly deep groove will make you smile almost as
widely as he does whenever he's seated at the kit."
"I'm primarily interested in making
what I do inviting and fun. I'm not trying to impress people with
how good I can play the drums or displaying my virtuosity as my
"If I had to describe my sound,
I'd call it loose and slow, the way Southerners are slow. And soulful,
hopefully. What stirs me is some sort of soulful move hearing
a singer sing a phrase that's just - pow! - and trying to get that
kind of emotion out of the drums."
"I think a trade-mark of my style
involves my getting a lot from a minimal arsenal of equipment. I
just have hi-hats, a ride, a crash, a sizzle and a four piece kit...
Number one, what I want to do is play music that is fun, that invites
people in. If a person walked off the street into a performance
of mine, he or she wouldn't need to understand the history of music
to enjoy it. That's my job."
Drummer Joey Baron was born into a Jewish working class family in Richmond, Virginia. He is largely self-taught by means of watching others play and listening to recordings, radio and television. His early influences ran the gamut from Ed Sullivan show guests, to "The Wild Wild West" television show theme to records by Art Blakey, Ray Charles, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, James Brown, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Besides being a member of the Bill Frisell Band for ten years until 1995, he has performed and recorded with an impressive list of musicians - including Carmen McRae, Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, Hampton Hawes, Chet Baker, Laurie Anderson, Art Pepper, Stan Getz, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, Vinicus Cantuaria, Jay McShann, David Bowie, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Big Joe Turner, Philip Glass, John Abercrombie, Mel Lewis, Pat Martino, Harry Sweets Edison, David Sanborn, Al Jarreau, Jim Hall, Randy Brecker, Marian McPartland, John Scofield, Marc Johnson and The Lounge Lizards.
Joey has lead his own trios one with John Medeski and Marc Ribot; and "Barondown" which featured Ellery Eskelin (saxophone) and Josh Roseman (trombone). "Barondown" recorded three albums - Crackshot (Avant), RAIsed Pleasure Dot (New World) and Tongue in Groove (JMT). He also co-lead the group "Miniature" (with Tim Berne and Hank Roberts) and was a member of "Naked City" (with John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Fred Frith and Wayne Horvitz) and of Zorn's group Masada (Dave Douglas and Greg Cohen).
Joey's first release on the Songline / Tone Field series on Intuition was Down Home,. The project features Baron's southern r&b-flavored original songs played by an all star band of Ron Carter, Arthur Blythe and Bill Frisell. "The most intriguing ensemble of the season," (New Yorker) "is not only all star, but fascinatingly so."(-Village Voice.) We'll Soon Find Out, the band's second album was released the summer of 2000. Both albums are produced by Lee Townsend. Baron's main performing band is "Killer Joey", featuring guitarists Steve Cardenas and Brad Shepik as well as Tony Scherr on bass. They have a self-produced CD entitled Killer Joey with Shepik's predecessor, Adam Levy. Occasionally, Joey still performs with "The Down Home Band", in a solo setting, with Bill Frisell, John Zorn, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, Vinicius Cantuaria, John Abercrombie, percussionist Robyn Schulkovsky and with pianists John Taylor, Elaine Elias, Enrico Pieranunzi and Misha Mengelberg. His most frequent rhythm section partner is bassist Marc Johnson.