Please note: The Sax Therapy performance mentioned at the start of this show has been rescheduled for late May.
For this show I have a phone interview with jazz pianist Joey Alexander. It has been my pleasure to present to you many amazing stories during the now over two and one-half years I have been doing this program. Yet none have been as phenomenal as the one that I have for you on this week’s show. I am still shaking my head in disbelief trying to figure out how jazz pianist Joey Alexander has managed to accomplish all that he has in just a few years.
Joey is just sixteen years old. He is from Indonesia and had to overcome cultural and language barriers as well as hurdles to his musical development. He began to play the piano at age six but as he will tell you in his own words, did not really become interested until age eight. He is entirely self taught which makes his story all the more remarkable.
His family gave up their tourist business and moved to Jakarta so that Joey could develop by playing with other musicians. Jazz great Herbie Hancock heard him play and recognized his immense talent. Hancock’s encouragement greatly helped Joey develop the confidence he needed.
One of jazz’s current superstars, trumpeter, composer, and musical director of jazz at the Lincoln Center in New York, Wynton Marsalis heard Joey Alexander play on a YouTube video and invited him to play at the Lincoln Center. The New York Times gave him rave reviews proclaiming him an overnight sensation.
At age eleven in 2015 he released his first album titled My Favorite Things which garnered two Grammy nominations. He became the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Grammy. His second album the following year resulted in his third Grammy Award nomination. Two of his first four albums reached number one on the Billboard’s Jazz Album charts.
If that is not enough, among his other stellar accomplishments include playing on the live Grammy show, playing at several major jazz festivals including Montreal and Newport, performing at Carnegie Hall, being profiled on CBS’s 60 minutes, being interviewed on the Today Show by Matt Lauer, and playing a jam session with Lester Holt, a proficient bassist. If you type in your computer Joey Alexander Today Show, youtube videos of Joey’s appearance are still available. That is also true of his appearance at the Grammys.
In addition Joey Alexander played at the Arthur Ashe Learning Center with Bill Clinton in the audience and performed at the White House for Barack Obama. He will tell us about meeting those Presidents.
With the release of his new album Warna on January 31st, somehow, someway I was privileged to get a phone interview with Joey Alexander for The Smooth Side Of Jazz. It was an honor. He was very polite and we had a very good conversation that I will always remember and cherish.