Check out Joey Alexander, a 10-year-old jazz pianist from Jakarta, Indonesia who has been wowing the better part of Asia as well the United Nations and Herbie Hancock with his sensational skills and prodigious improvisation on the keys.
At his young age, Joey can empathize with the ear and soul of a legend like Thelonius Monk, while also imagining his own musical wanderings in pieces he creates on the fly. He’s been playing for only four years, but you wouldn’t know it from the sound of his melodies. Just close your eyes and listen to his three-part cover of Monk’s famous “Round Midnight,” Chick Corea‘s “Armando Rumba,” and John Coltrane‘s “Giant Steps,” and you’ll think you’re hearing a master.
“Jazz gives Joey the freedom to express himself, and piano to him is the best instrument to do that,” Joey’s father Denny Sila tells the Good News Blog. “He likes the sound a piano can produce, lots of notes and he believes it is like an orchestra.”
Sophisticated and wise beyond his years, Joey has transformed his passion for music into a full-fledged career, and people are quickly catching on. In December 2011, when he was only 8, the wunderkind was invited by UNESCO to play solo piano for Hancock during the jazz legend’s visit to Indonesia. Denny describes this experience as “life-changing” for Joey.
“Joey was nervous,” Denny recalls. “Herbie offered encouragement, and Joey’s biggest dream is to go to the U.S. and perform for Herbie again.”
In the past couple years, Joey has been playing his way around Eastern Europe and Asia, participating in the JakJazz Festival 2012 in Jakarta and 2013 World Youth and Jazz Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Denny considers Joey’s greatest accomplishment to be representing Indonesia in the first International Festival Contest of Jazz Improvisation last year in Odessa, Ukraine, and winning the Grand Prix Award.
“It is hard to find events that would accept him at his very young age,” Denny explains. “However, last year in June in Odessa, Ukraine, Joey won the Grand Prix Prize for all instruments… his competitors were all professionals – 271 musicians from 41 countries way above Joey’s age, including two-time Grammy nominee, NY-based saxophonist, Jay Rodriguez, whom Joey had the honor to do a duet with in a workshop.”
As the young prodigy continues his impressive musical summit, he now has taken it upon himself to learn the art of composition, and also enjoys playing music from other genres, including gospel, pop, hip-hop, and R&B. Next up on his playlist, Joey will join American jazz talents Natalie Cole, Robert Glasper, Dave Koz and Jamie Cullum at one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world, Java Jazz Festival.
“Finally this festival accepted Joey and his trio,” Denny says with pride.
Finally… at 10 years old!