Los Angeles based percussionist and drummer Joey De León Jr. has been touring and recording all over the world for many years.
Joey De León remembers the year his life changed forever, 1984, he was on summer vacation with his family and asked his mother if he should be a musician or go into Law and without hesitation she said, "your heart is not in becoming a lawyer Joey, you have been playing music since you were a child, this is what you have to do!" That was all he needed to hear and since that day he has not looked back.
Joey was born on May 28, 1968 in an area of New York City known as Hell's Kitchen. His parents soon moved to the Bronx where they introduced him to the sounds of Afro-Cuban music. He recalls, "I could not get my mind to listen to anything else but the intense percussion playing going on in that music." Joey's father was also a percussionist. His father taught him rhythms and made them easier to understand. Joey did not get serious about music until the age of 15 when he was introduced to classical music during high school. This awareness helped broaden his horizons and keep an open attitude when it came to all types of music. He went on to receive his Bachelor's Degree in Classical Percussion from the prestigious Manhattan School of Music where he won the conservatory's highest award for outstanding musicianship.
After graduation, Joey De León began his professional life traveling across Europe and the United States performing in a variety of musicals such as Sophisticated Ladies, Ain't Misbehavin and Once on this Island. He wanted to grow not only musically but personally so he packed his bags and headed out west to Los Angeles. He says, "At that time I was a bit unsure whether I was going in the right direction. I believe I made the right decision in sticking it out." In 1995, he began playing with various local bands, but the one that put him on the map was violinist Susie Hansen, a gig he enjoyed for seven years. That was a very important time for him, growing musically and personally, networking and getting to know the music scene in L.A. As word of mouth spread, he began getting the attention of well known luminaries like Justo Almario, an amazing Saxophonist, and multi-instrumentalist, and a gentleman, who has been very important to the Afro-Cuban diaspora and percussion icon, Francisco Aguabella . Both these gentlemen have been instrumental in achieving his ultimate goal: musical individuality. In the case of Justo, performing with him led to sharing the stage and traveling with one of his musical heroes, Alex Acuna.
In 1999, Joey De León was invited to join forces with renowned guitar duo Strunz and Farah. This multicultural group has given him the opportunity to display his versatility on a variety of percussion instruments complementing his already deeply rooted foundation. He continued to perform with them for the next five years all across the U.S., Central, and Latin America. That same year, he was asked to join the Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars led by radio personality, Jose Rizo, whose show is aptly titled as the ensemble. This freight train of a band features the best Latin jazz musicians on the west coast. This union was documented on the landmark recording, Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars, which took place at B.B. Kings in Los Angeles. That year was capped off with a performance with pop superstar Ricky Martin held at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California.
Since then, Joey De León has been blessed joining former Earth Wind and Fire guitarist Al McKay in which he continues to travel with his band across Europe, North Africa, Japan and now the Middle East (Dubai). He also received the once in a life time chance to perform and record with multi-Grammy award-winning singer Al Jarreau.
In 2002, Joey De León embarked on a year long tour of the U.S. and Mexico performing with Mexican singing legend Joan Sebastian. More importantly, he married the love of his life Yadhira on February 2nd.
In 2003, Joey has continued to add to his list of accomplishments, one, being a member of the Luckman Jazz Orchestra under the masterful baton of Downbeat Poll winning flautist James Newton, and featuring such artists as Ndugu Chancler and Bennie Maupin (Herbie Hancock). They recently returned from a tour of Salvador, Bahia, and Sao Paulo, Brasil. The second, a last minute call to perform with pop legend Cyndi Lauper to a sold out engagement in Los Angeles.
Among the highlights of 2004 are performances at the Playboy Jazz Festival with the Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars, and a live taping of the 5th Annual Latin Grammy Awards backing up Roselyn Sanchez and Akwid. Also in the summer, Joey De León participated in a landmark recording with the winner of Downbeat Magazine's Best Jazz Organist award, Joey Defrancesco and legendary organist Jimmy Smith. In the fall of 2004, Joey was invited to join the U.S.-Mexico tour of legendary Mexican singer-songwriter, Juan Gabriel.
Joey De León continues to travel and looking for new opportunities and when in town, he does studio sessions and recording for film, television, and commercials as well as live performances in the Los Angeles area.