The Usual Suspects

Gio Washington-Wright's Top L.A. Studio Musicians Tribute Site

 

Joel is a MONSTER! He is at the very top of the list of a small group of elite L.A. studio woodwind doublers. You name it and he can do it... on any axe. He is also a superior improvisor in any style.


 

 

 

Joel C. Peskin started playing the clarinet at the age of nine in Brooklyn.  After graduating from the High School Of Performing Arts, which was made famous in the movie and television series, “Fame”, Joel studied saxophone with legendary woodwind teacher, Joseph Allard, from the Juilliard School of Music.  Joel also studied with saxophonist Frank Strozier and was a protégé and close friend of jazz saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

 As a teenager, Joel played gigs in the Catskills and performed in a New York jazz ensemble with Bob Moses (Drummer), Steve Blum (Guitarist) and Donald Hahn (Trumpeter).  The group played all over NYC and, soon after, Joel found himself part of the avant garde jazz scene, playing with Perry Robinson, Randy Kaye and other notable free jazz players.

 In 1968, Joel landed a gig touring with the Beach Boys which lasted until 1972.  On his first tour, Joel was recruited by Beach Boys sidemen Mike Kowalski (Drummer) and Ed Carter (Guitarist) to join their band, “The New Nadir”.  The band was under contract with record producer Joe Boyd and it was at this time Joel moved to Hollywood and began his collaboration with Mike and Ed.

 As fate would have it, Canned Heat bassist, Henry Vestine, was putting together a band for blues guitar legend, Albert Collins.  Joel toured with the Albert Collins Blues Band for one year and it had a lasting impact on him.  After finishing his gig with Collins, Joel left for England to record a Latin Rock album with Kowalski, Carter, jazz trumpeter/conga player, Jerry Gonzalez, and timbale player, Freddie Munar.  When the record was finished, Joel returned to the States and continued touring as Leader/Contractor of the horn section for the Beach Boys until 1972.

 After the birth of his daughter, Nicole, Joel stayed around Los Angeles doing R&B, funk and Latin gigs.  He earned a reputation as a woodwind doubler and played authentic Cuban style flute with the Charanga band “Tipica Tropical”.  His good friend, Mike Kowalski, once again sought him out for an Asian tour playing tenor sax with the Johnny Otis Blues Revue which featured alto sax/singer Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson, Shuggie Otis and drummer Kowalski.

 The early 70s were lean years for Joel and he found himself pursuing freelance and studio work.  In 1975, he played on two Frank Zappa records (“Waka Jawaka” and “The Grand Wazoo”), as well as a few records produced by Beach Boys band member Bruce Johnston for singer Jack Jones.  He toured with Edgar Winter’s band “White Trash”; The Doc Severinsen Quintet; and vocalist Shawn Phillips.  During this time, Joel found he had a talent for music sight reading and for playing many different woodwind instruments, including saxes, flutes and clarinets.  With these additional talents, Joel set his sights on doing recording sessions of all types in Los Angeles.

 In the early 1980’s, Joel was heavily involved in the LA studio scene.  It was Joel’s torrid alto sax on the theme song for Entertainment Tonight which had everyone clamoring for his searing, soulful style.  Joel did hundreds of TV film, motion pictures and recording sessions.   He hooked up with legendary female singer, Merry Clayton, of Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” fame and together they created some high-powered dance and R&B recordings that, years later, would bring them together again.

 Torn between being a studio musician and a performance recording artist, Joel once again turned to his old friend, Mike Kowalski, and formed a duo called The Backsters.  Together they produced a demo covering a 1957 Mercury hit by tenor saxophonist Red Prysock entitled “Hand Clappin’”.  A&M President and Founder, Herb Alpert, heard the demo and immediately signed The Backsters to a record deal and their video for “Hand Clappin’” went into heavy rotation on MTV.

 In the mid 1980’s, Joel met Nyle Steiner, the inventor of the EVI and EWI Electronic Wind Instruments.  Soon Joel was doing sessions with Nyle’s prototype instruments, introducing a new-found electronic rack of synths and samplers to the music industry.  In the late 1980’s, Joel was responsible for bringing Nyle and the famed EWI, along with Andy Muson, to AKAI Electronics.  Executives fell in love with the EWI and a licensing deal was struck with the EWI Group.  Joel composed, wrote and produced a performance song called “Sweet For CP”, which today is a classic YouTube video featuring performances by Joel, Nyle and Michael Brecker all playing the AKAI Electronic Wind Instruments.

Joel continued working as one of the top studio musicians in Los Angeles landing tour deals with some of the world’s biggest artists, including Barbra Streisand in 1994 on her “Timeless” tour in Las Vegas and on the West Coast; again in 2000, on her “Millenium” tour in Las Vegas and Australia; and in 2000 and 2001, with the Beach Boys on their United States tour.  He also played the famous alto sax solo on the Beach Boys’ monster hit, “Kokomo”.  From 2002-2004, Joel played in the band for the hit show, “American Idol”.  Soon after, he became a member of the Harold Wheeler Band and, after fifteen seasons, remains one of the original members of the orchestra on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars”.

Today, Joel is producing tracks for his own CD, entitled “Don’t Burn The Bridge That Brought You Over”, recording under the name “iReedman”.  His CD features Merry Clayton and hip hop artist, Jack Jr. with tracks that are exciting, fun and just plain kick ass!  His expected release date is early 2013 and includes a political novelty song called “Throw Me Under The Bus”, which is getting a lot of attention in the talk radio arena.

Joel’s powerful tenor sax has roots in classic R&B, Jazz and Rock.  He loves to drive his horn with a robust intensity and unique sound timbre that people are attracted to like ear candy.  But, it’s his latest project featuring Diva and Vocalist Merry Clayton that is his most enjoyable of all!

 

Joel Peskin and Sal Lozano at a recording session

 

Joel blowing on a jump blues with his band "The Backsters"

 

*  = favorite
**  = BURNIN'!

 

ALTO

**Blues for Francine  -  Ralph Burns / "In The Mood" Soundtrack
Joel Peskin - Blues For Francine.mp3

 

TENOR

*Deed I Do - Diane Schuur / "Pure Schuur"
Joel Peskin - Deed I Do.mp3

*Don't Be That Way - Ralph Burns / "In The Mood" Soundtrack
Joel Peskin - Don't Be That Way.mp3

*I've Got The World On A String
- Michael Buble / "Call Me Irresponsible"
Joel Peskin - I've Got The World On A String.mp3

*A Long Way To The Top
- Pat Boone / "In A Metal Mood" (trading with Pete Christlieb)
Joel Peskin - Long Way To The Top.mp3

**On The Road - Ralph Burns / "In The Mood" Soundtrack
Joel Peskin - On The Road.mp3

**Take The A Train - Ralph Burns / "In The Mood" Soundtrack
Joel Peskin - Take The A Train.mp3

The Hard Way - "The Hard Way" - Motion Picture Soundtrack
Joel Peskin - The Hard Way.mp3

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