Born on the island of Bali in the city of Denpasar in 2003, Joey Alexander first encountered a piano at the age of six, and was immediately able to pick out the melody of Thelonious Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t” and other jazz standards from his father’s record collection by ear. His father, an amateur musician, nurtured Joey’s gift for swing and improvisation by introducing him to classic jazz recordings and taking him to jam sessions with seasoned musicians in Bali and Jakarta. From there, his musical intuition flourished, as did his love of playing jazz.
Learning by listening, Joey’s early influences include Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans and John Coltrane, and he has a special affinity for trumpet players including Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis. Despite his lack of formal jazz training, Joey developed an authoritative technique, and with his depth of musicality he quickly rose in the Indonesian jazz scene and beyond. At age 8, UNESCO invited Joey to play solo piano in front of jazz icon Herbie Hancock during his visit to Indonesia. Joey drew significant inspiration from Herbie’s enthusiastic response to his playing. At age 10, Joey was featured at jazz festivals in both Jakarta and Copenhagen, and he won the international improvisation contest in Odessa, Ukraine – besting over 200 jazz professionals from 17 countries. In 2014, Joey performed at star-studded galas in New York City for Jazz at Lincoln Center in Rose Hall, the Jazz Foundation of America at the Apollo and the Arthur Ashe Learning Center at Gotham Hall.