Joey Alexander: boy wonder
16 years old, and already onto his fourth studio album... an astonishing feat for this superb jazz pianist.
At the risk of sounding like a doddery old relative, it’s important to remember that Joey Alexander will one day become an adult. Except on the day of the release of Warna, his fourth (yes, fourth) studio album, this talented young prodigy will ONLY be 16! Born in Bali in 2003, Alexander lived in Jakarta between the ages of 8 and 10 before moving to New York in 2014, where he experienced the most meteoric career rise a jazz musician has ever seen.
Commended by masters of the calibre of Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis, he released three impeccable studio albums, published on Motema: My Favorite Things in 2015, Countdown in 2016 and Eclipse in 2018, all veritably impressive jazz albums and not just flukes. Marking his entry in the prestigious Verve roster, Warna is just as impressive.
Present by his side (since the beginning) is double bassist Larry Grenadier, with Kendrick Scott on the drums and, on certain tracks, Venezuelan percussionist Luisito Quintero and flautist Anne Drummond. In Bahasa, the language of his native Indonesia, warna means colour: his expressive piano certainly isn’t lacking any. You can almost hear his transition into adulthood through his fingers.
Always under Hancock’s influence when playing, Joey Alexander has penned all the tracks here, with the exception of covers of Joe Henderson (Inner Urge) and Sting (Fragile): proof of his talents as a composer, an area not always mastered by his colleagues. All in all, he’s on the way up.