Wynton Marsalis says of Joey, “There has never been anyone that you can think of who could play like that at his age. I love everything about his playing – his rhythm, his confidence, his understanding of the music.”
His 2015 debut album for Motema Music, My Favorite Things, garnered two Grammy Award nominations for “Best Jazz Instrumental Album” and “Best Improvised Solo” for his performance of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”, making him the youngest jazz artist ever nominated for a Grammy. His performances on the 58th Annual Grammy Awards broadcast – far more magical than what was expected – received standing ovations from the star-studded audience, bringing his talent to the attention of music lovers everywhere, mesmerizing long-time industry professionals, and inspiring other young musicians to pursue their own dreams.
Born on June 25, 2003 on the island of Bali, pianist Joey Alexander originally learned about jazz from his dad, who exposed his son to a variety of classic albums from his extensive collection. At the age of six, Joey began teaching himself to play piano using a mini electronic keyboard given to him by his father. He was immediately able to pick out the melody of Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t,” but he didn’t stop there. Joey’s dad nurtured his gift of swing and improvisation by taking him to jam sessions with veteran musicians in Bali and Jakarta.
Joey’s musicianship and grasp of jazz fundamentals developed at a remarkable pace, and at age eight UNESCO invited him to play solo piano for an elated Herbie Hancock during the piano great’s visit to Indonesia. Joey later remarked to Hancock, “You told me that you believed in me, and that was the day I decided to dedicate my childhood to jazz.”
At nine, Joey won the grand prize at the first Master-Jam Fest, an all-ages competition in Ukraine which included 200 competitors from 17 countries. By 10, he was performing at jazz festivals in both Jakarta and Copenhagen. An invitation from Wynton Marsalis led to his U.S. debut appearance at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall in 2014 where he amazed the audience with his musicality, followed by appearances before the Jazz Foundation of America at the Apollo and the Arthur Ashe Learning Center at Gotham Hall.