Born in Indonesia in 2003, Joey Alexander encountered a keyboard at the age of six and immediately began picking out the melody of Thelonious Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t” by ear. His father, an amatuer musician with a huge passion for jazz, soon discovered his boy not only could pick up virtually any jazz composition by ear, he also had an impeccable sense of swing, and a gift for improvising. Joey’s first jazz training’ came from sitting in on an informal jam sessions with local and visiting professionals in Bali, Indonesia.
His musical intuition further flourished and eventually, his parents moved to Jakarta so he would have a chance to expand his horizons by studying and playing with professionals. By 2011, Joey had been featured at the Jakarta International Jazz Festival, and was included in a UNESCO jazz event organized by Herbie Hancock. In 2013, he entered and won the Master Jam Fest improvisation contest of Jazz in Odessa Festival in Ukraine, triumphing over 43 adult jazz professionals from 17 countries.
In 2014 Wynton Marsalis ‘discovered’ Joey performing in Jakarta, and flew him in to New York City to participate in his all-star Jazz at Lincoln Center Gala, MC’d by Billy Crystal. Joey wowed the jazz stars and audience alike with his soulful and sophisticated arrangement of Round Midnight. Joey also performed for President Clinton and other luminaries at the Arthur Ashe Foundation Gala.
It was Grammy Award winning producer Jason Olaine who took Joey under his wing, introduced him to Motema Music and jazz patron Daniel Pincus and spearheaded the collaboration to apply for an O1 Visa (for individuals of Extraordinary Ability) for Joey. As further proof of the validity of Joey’s quest, the visa was granted in record time… and just in time to make it possible for Joey to play at The Apollo theater in honor of Herbie Hancock at the star-studded Jazz Foundation of America Gala in October of 2014 where he got yet another enthusiastic ovation, more press accolades and a priceless show of support from Hancock who was stunned by Joey’s musical sophistication. Just two days later, buoyed by this momentous set of events, Joey and Olaine entered the studio with jazz veterans Larry Grenadier and Ulysses Owens to record the first session for his debut album.
Joey now resides in New York City where he plans to go to school and continue honing his chops in the jazz capital of the world. He cites his major influences as Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis.