Let me introduce you to Joey Alexander; an 11-year-old jazz pianist who released his debut album earlier this month. I watched a video about Joey yesterday and had to share it, in fact, 24 hours laters I’m still blown away by this child prodigy!
Born on the island of Bali in the city of Denpasar in 2003, Joey Alexander first encountered a keyboard at the age of six and was immediately able to pick out the melody of Thelonious Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t” and other jazz standards from his father’s record collection by ear. By the time he was nine he was playing in front of Herbie Hancock during his visit to Indonesia as United Nations Ambassador. Despite no formal jazz education, Joey rose quickly in the Indonesian music scene and beyond. In 2013 he was featured at jazz festivals in both Jakarta and Copenhagen and won the international improvisation contest in Odessa, Ukraine – besting over 200 adult contestants.
His first album ‘My Favorite Things’, produced by Grammy-winning producer Jason Olaine was released on May 12 and finds Joey playing everything from Coltrane to Rodgers and Hammerstein. Accompanying Joey Alexander on the album are bassist Larry Grenadier (Stan Getz, Brad Mehldau, Pat Metheny) and 2-time Grammy-winning drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. (Kurt Elling, Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride) as well as three talented young players from the New York scene: Russell Hall (bass), Sammy Miller (drums) and Alphonso Horne (trumpet). Watching him play is extraordinary, as is listening to his fellow musicians speak about his natural ability.
This month Joey appears on the cover of JazzTimes at the ripe old age of 13. Killing it.
Feature Image: Mark Von Holden