Child prodigy dedicates life to all that jazz
Indonesian jazz piano prodigy releases debut CD at 11 years old 印尼十一歲天才爵士鋼琴手發行首張專輯
Joey Alexander's favorite things include the Avengers, SpongeBob and American jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. He's a normal 11- year- old kid who just happens to be a jazz piano prodigy from Indonesia and has already impressed such jazz luminaries as Wynton Marsalis and Herbie Hancock. Recently, Alexander released his debut CD, "My Favorite Things," making a statement on the opening track with a 10- minute- plus version of John Coltrane's harmonically challenging "Giant Steps." He also displays a sensitive touch on ballads such as Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" and Monk's "'Round Midnight" Not only did he arrange all the tunes, but he also wrote an original composition, "Ma Blues," inspired by Bobby Timmons' jazz classic "Moanin'."
"For me jazz is a calling. I love jazz because it's about freedom to express yourself and being spontaneous, full of rhythm and full of improvisation," said the mop-topped pianist, who is only around 140-centimeters-tall and weighs about 36 kilograms. "Technique is important, but for me first when I play it's from the heart and feeling the groove," said the jazz prodigy.
Alexander made his U.S. debut in May 2014 at Jazz at Lincoln Center's (JALC) annual gala where performed a solo version of "'Round Midnight." Marsalis, JALC's artistic director, brought him over from Indonesia after a friend insisted that he watch a YouTube clip of the 10-year-old performing tunes by Coltrane, Monk and Chick Corea. "There has never been anyone that you can think of who could play like that at his age," Marsalis said. "I loved everything about his playing — his rhythm, his confidence, his understanding of the music."
Alexander, whose parents are Christians, attributes his unique talent as being "a gift from God." Born in Bali, Alexander began playing piano at the age of 6 when his father, an amateur pianist and guitarist, brought home a mini electric keyboard. Alexander immediately began picking out the melody of Monk's "Well, You Needn't" and other standards by ear from listening to his father's jazz collection.
His father gave him some lessons, and soon his son started jamming with local musicians. His parents gave up their adventure tour business and moved to Jakarta so he could play with Indonesia's top jazz musicians. At age 8, Alexander had the opportunity to play for his hero, Hancock, at a UNESCO event in Jakarta. Alexander says Hancock's encouragement led him "to dedicate" himself to jazz.
心爵士樂演奏廳的年度秀中獨自演奏〈午夜時分〉。林肯 中心爵士樂演奏廳藝術總監馬沙利斯的一位朋友堅稱他在YouTube 上看到十歲的亞歷山大演奏柯川、孟克和柯瑞亞等人的樂曲，在那之後，他就被馬沙利斯從印尼帶到美國。馬