Darryl Yokley

Critically acclaimed, Darryl Yokley is a saxophonist who has been recognized by Downbeat Magazine and The New York Times as an extremely talented arranger and composer. He has also been noted for creating memorable tunes for Sound Reformation’s second album Pictures at an African Exhibition. Brent Black, a jazz critic, described Yokley’s playing as “a critic’s worst nightmare” because he “sidesteps standard categorizations with ease.” Dave Cantor, Downbeat Magazine’s Downbeat Magazine’s editor, said that Yokley was “nakedly shutting emotion through his instrument.” Although Yokley’s music and playing may be described differently, everyone agrees that Darryl Yokley has a unique sound and concept. Darryl started his musical education in California at age ten, playing clarinet until he was ten years old. He then switched to saxophone one year later when he entered middle school. He quickly mastered the saxophone, the language of music and was able to place in honors bands for jazz and classical. Yokley, a high school student from North Carolina, met James Houlik, his future saxophone teacher at a Lenoir clinic. Yokley made the decision to concentrate on classical saxophone in 1997. It would be ten more years before he could truly devote himself to jazz. For his undergraduate studies, he attended Duquesne University and for his graduate studies at Michigan State University. He studied with James Houlik, and then with Joseph Lulloff, a concert alto saxophonist from Michigan. Yokley studied jazz with Mike Tomaro at Duquesne, Derrick Gardner, and Michigan State. However, his main focus was on being a concert soloist. Darryl began touring and playing with Motown legends like the Four Tops, Temptations and the O Jays after he graduated from Michigan State University. Yokley enjoyed his time with these legendary musicians but wanted to play again swing and felt that he had the opportunity to devote himself to jazz and continue the tradition of learning music on the streets from older musicians. In 2007, he moved to Philadelphia to finish his “doctoral study” with mentors like Orrin Evans and Mike Boone. He also enjoyed playing in Philadelphia’s jam sessions and meeting new people every night. In 2009, he moved to New York and began performing at main shows at various venues within a matter of months. He has performed with many artists including Orrin Evans and Nasheet Waits, Valery pomonarev’s Big Band “Our Father Who Art Blakey”, Jack Walrath and Ralph Peterson. Yokley was the special guest artist at the closing ceremony of the ARPA International Film Festival Hollywood 2014, and performed for Quincy Jones, a world-renowned producer and musician. He was asked to compose music for Represent: 200 Years of African-American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Arts in 2015. He has been a successful sideman and bandleader, which has taken him all over the U.S. and internationally. Darryl has performed with some of jazz’s most prominent names, including MoTown and Rhonda Ross. He also continues to be active as a classical soloist, chamber musician, and singer. Yokley founded Sound Reformation in 2010, and released their debut album The Void in 2012. This album received positive reviews from critics such as Brent Black, Charles Latimer, and others. With the release of Pictures at an African Exhibition in April 2018, Yokley’s second album, the band continues to gain popularity. Yokley still receives interview and review requests for the album. Darryl Yokley has a busy performing and composing career. He is also an active teacher at the Fort Lee School of Music and Westminster Conservatory in Princeton. Darryl Yokley, who has been teaching at Westminster conservatory for more than eight years, founded the Westminster Saxophone Quartet in 2011. He has helped young talented saxophonists develop their skills and coached the quartet to two first-place finishes at Carnegie Hall competition. Darryl Yokley plays a Selmer Mark VI as tenor, using a Vandoren T8 mouthpiece and Vandoren Gold MO Ligature. He also uses Vandoren V16 Reeds. He performs as an alto on a Selmer Super Action 80 Series II, Vandoren V16 T8 mouthpiece, Vandoren Gold MO Ligature, and Vandoren Java Select reeds. Yumiko Komura designed the BREATHTAKING Strap. For the most recent news, sign up to our mailing list. Follow Darryl on social media! From www.darrylyokley.com

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