Joey Alexander – a child prodigy

My Favorite Things, the first album by young, 12-year old Indonesian pianist Joey Alexander was released at the beginning of May earning him two Grammy nominations, in the category Best Improvised Jazt Solo and Best Instrumental Jazz Album.

The album by this exceptionally gifted boy brings jazz standards and one original composition Ma Blues inspired by the song Moanin’. The label Motéma Music released My Favorite Things on which the young artist was joined by bassist Russell Hall, drummer Sammy Miller and trumpeter Alphonso Horne. Guest musicians on the album were bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. who used to perform with different ensembles at the Jazz Fest – Grenadier in 2006 and 2008 and Owens in 2009 and this year, when he performed with Kurt Elling.

Joey Alexander learned to play the piano by ear on a toy instrument when he was 6 by listening to his parents’ jazz records. He met Herbie Hancock at one his first performances when he was 8 and decided after that to “dedicate his childhood to jazz”.

He caught public attention last year with a performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center Gala Concert where he was invited by artistic director Wynton Marsalis who said the following about Alexander: “I don’t know anyone like him. I am amazed by everything about his playing – his rhythm, the confidence and his understanding of music.”

It is no wonder Joey Alexander sparked such interest of colleagues and the public almost over night it seems, since he shows astonishing maturity in his technique and improvisation.

Listen to a studio performance of the composition My Favorite Things from the album of the same name by a boy rightly considered a child prodigy, who was featured on a New York Times magazine cover not a full month after the release of his debut album.

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