In the first decade of his life, jazz pianist Joey Alexander released his first album and became the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Grammy at age 11.
Now, at 13, Alexander has a second album, “Countdown,” which he said shows more exploration. But the Bali native, who at the age of eight had impressed Herbie Hancock during the US jazz legend’s visit to Indonesia, remains modest.
“I don’t think I’m a genius,” said Alexander, who moved with his family to New York in 2014 to further his musical development. “I’m thankful for the gift that God has given me to play this music that I love.”
Alexander started playing the piano at age six when his parents gave him a mini electronic keyboard. He began teaching himself Thelonious Monk’s 1944 jazz standard “Well, You Needn’t.”
Alexander’s new nine-track album features covers from jazz greats such as Billy Strayhorn and John Coltrane.
“I’ve been hearing them since I was little,” he said. “Me and my dad would listen these tunes, especially ‘Countdown’ – it’s really hard to play.”
Alexander recorded the Coltrane hit song for the album, which will be released on Sept. 16, in just one take.
“I always try to practice my feelings because in this music it’s not just technique, it’s just the feeling of how you play and the freedom that you can give,” said Alexander, who sits at the piano keyboard two to three hours every day.
“I do a lot of listening actually … and then I would just practice it, try new stuff I haven’t tried before.”