Too often, talented young artists succumb to believing so much in their own ability that they lose sight of their true potential as significant contributors to their field. Thankfully, there are others committed to evolving and lifting the music to new levels of appreciation with enthusiasm, engagement, and emotional depth. Enter pianist Joey Alexander, who at the age of fourteen has already recorded two Grammy-nominated studio albums, 2015’s My Favorite Things and 2016’s Countdown, as well as Joey.Monk.Live!, a critically acclaimed surprise release from late 2017 to honor Thelonious Monk’s centennial. With his third studio effort, Eclipse, his most personal statement to date, Alexander takes another giant step forward, demonstrating his aptitude as a composer, bandleader, and musician, hinting at the many artistic paths open to him in the decades ahead.
“Joey has an infectious sense of play and a deep fascination with the kaleidoscopic possibilities of jazz,” says Motema founder Jana Herzen, who signed the artist at age ten. “What an amazing adventure these four years have been with Joey. Each album his musicality gets deeper and broader. Last year with Joey.Monk.Live!, his sophisticated and vibrant approach to the music of one of the most recorded and respected composers in jazz inspired even the toughest of critics to tip their hats. Now, with Eclipse he’s emerging as a multi-dimensional composer. I can’t wait to hear what happens next.”
As a pianist, Alexander is neither flashy nor bombastic. He approaches the instrument with discipline, as heard on the opening track, “Bali,” playing subtly and gently in some stretches with delicate harmonies, playful and scampering in others as he displaces rhythms. He also possesses an elemental sense of melody, as heard on the final track, an original titled “Peace,” exhibiting the patience and instinct to get his melodic statements just right. “I’ve learned how to be a good listener,” Alexander says.
With the release of Eclipse, Joey Alexander has created an evermore personal and powerful statement of his musical and artistic vision. His work continues to draw from his inspirations of the past, while putting his own progressive stamp on the music by constantly exploring, both on stage and in the studio.
There has never been anyone that you can think of who could play like that at his age. I love everything about his playing—his rhythm, his confidence, his understanding of the music.
There comes a point when every piano prodigy must show something more than chops. . . . Joey Alexander (has) got the ability for the musical marathon.