Interview: NWMS chats with 15 year old jazz phenom Joey Alexander

Jazz pianist Joey Alexander plays with the depth of a soul that belies his age. His most recent album, Eclipse, showcases his maturity as a composer and musician. Interesting fact: Joey and his band began recording Eclipse on August 21, 2017, the day of the solar eclipse.

Joey has performed around the world and is loved by jazz fans and critics alike, and has three Grammy nominations to date:

2016 – Improvised Jazz Solo: Giant Steps

2016 – Jazz Instrumental Album: My Favorite Things

2017 – Improvised Jazz Solo: Countdown).

 

And he is just 15-years-old.

 

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Katz

 

Joey is performing six shows at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, from Thursday, February 28th, through Sunday, March 3rd. He took time out of his busy schedule to chat with Northwest Music Scene about his meteoric career.


Northwest Music Scene: What’s your earliest musical memory?

Joey Alexander: Growing up in Bali, I wake up every morning listening to people playing traditional instruments in my neighborhood and afterwards, hearing all kinds of music (jazz, gospel, pop and classical) in my house.

NWMS: Do you come from a musical family? If not, where does your talent come from?

JA: My talent comes from God but my family loves music, especially my dad. He played music.

NWMS: What’s the first song you remember writing? How old were you?

JA: Ma Blues (it’s on my first recording). I was 9 years old when I wrote it.

NWMS: What do you remember about the very first time you performed for other people?

JA: I just wanted to make people happy.

NWMS: At what point did you realize music was your true calling?

JA:  I don’t remember exactly but I think when I was around 9.

NWMS: Who inspires you musically?

JA: Everybody. All the greats and everybody who played with me. We inspire each other.

NWMS: Tell us about your most recent album – what inspired the songs you included on the album?

JA: Everything inspired me including the solar eclipse that happened on the day of the recording. After we witnessed the solar eclipse, we walked in the studio and started playing spontaneously and later I named it, Eclipse.

NWMS: You’ve been nominated for three Grammy Awards. Share what went through your mind when you learned you’d been nominated. How does receiving Grammy nominations affect your songwriting process (does it affect the process?)

JA: I never expected to be nominated and I was shocked, grateful and humbled. Receiving the nominations pushed me to make music and get better.

NWMS: Name 5 artists, albums, or songs you can’t live without.

JA: I don’t listen to the same music/artists or songs that I listened to in the past but I listen to all that is good out there past and now. All is special.

NWMS: Being an artist from a young age, what advice do you have for youngsters looking to pursue music, either as a hobby or career?

JA: Be thankful for every opportunity to share your gift and always be prepared.

NWMS: What’s your favorite way to unwind from a long day at the studio or following a performance?

JA: Watch TV and eat a big meal before going to bed.

NWMS: If you weren’t creating music, what would you be doing?

JA: Exercise at the gym, school works, go to movies and hang with my family.

NWMS: Tell me about your most memorable live performance experience (where was it, what made it so memorable).

JA: Every performance is memorable but there’s one that is life-changing to me and my family and that is the performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center gala in 2014 in NYC hosted by Billy Crystal. It marked the start of my career in the US.

NWMS: Tell me about the musicians who are currently recording and touring with you. How did they come to join you?

JA: I haven’t done a new recording yet and but I’ve been touring with different musicians. This time I’ll bring my friends Kris Funn on bass, Quincy Phillips on drums, and Patrick Bartley on sax. We’ll play music from Eclipse and new music.


Joey Alexander is performing six shows this week at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, from Thursday, February 28th, through Sunday, March 3rd.  Ticket and additional show information can be found HERE.

Connect with Joey Alexander online:

Website:  http://joeyalexandermusic.com/

Facebook: Joey Alexander

YouTube: Joey Alexander


Su Ring

Su has worked in and around the music scene since the tender age of 19, when she formed her first heavy metal band on the Jersey Shore. Since then, she's hosted a radio show, worked at several major record labels in New York City, written for a now-defunct rock periodical, and self-published a novel set amid the 80s metal music scene in the Big Apple. She spends her time now singing anthems, hosting a hockey podcast, and producing segments for a daytime TV talk show. And enjoying rock and heavy metal shows, of course.