Stereo Embers The Podcast: Joey Alexander

Written by on 11/08/2023

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Don’t feel bad if Joey Alexander’s resume’ makes you feel inferior about your childhood achievements. We all feel that way. The Indonesian born pianist taught himself to play at age 6 and was flawlessly covering Thelonious Monk before he was in 1st grade. Because of the paucity of jazz opportunities at home, Alexander sat in with the top jazz players in Bali and Jakarta. At 8 he played for Herbie Hancock, at 9 he won the Grand Prix at the 2013 Master Jam Fest in Odessa and by 10 his family had moved to New York City so Alexander could have more playing opportunities. After catching the attention of Wynton Marsalis, Alexander made his U.S. debut at Marsalis’ annual gala playing Monk’s Round Midnight and the next day, nothing was the same. Hailed as a genius by the New York Times and Downbeat Magazine, from there Alexander’s career took off. He’s played for ex Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, snagged a Grammy nomination, put out six perfect albums,
including his new one Continuance, played shows all over the world from Copenhagen to Montreal to the Apollo Theatre in Harlem,
and he was nominated as Music Scholar by the T. Washington Scholars Program. Bear in mind, this is just a partial list. At 20,
Alexander is now more than just a prodigy–he’s a bandleader. And Continuance is a perfect example of his maturity as a player.
Filled with arrangements that are windswept, jaunty and achingly precise, Alexander’s talent is one of those rare and expansive things. He’s commanding, he’s elegant and he’s got the kind of rhythmic finesse that comes from the Cosmos, so it’s no surprise that Continuance rolls with majesty and grace.

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