A funny thing happened to Joey Alexander over the past five years. A whirlwind period during which he became the most brilliantly precocious talent in jazz history, the youngest musician ever nominated for a Grammy Award in a jazz category; and a media favorite who’s earned a profile on 60 Minutes, a front-page profile in the New York Times and other premier coverage. As a pianist, composer, and bandleader, Joey Alexander is enjoying one of the most ascendant careers in jazz, thanks to his mind-blowing technique, innate musical smarts, and ability to communicate irresistible joy. His live performances have been equally celebrated. At the 58th Grammy Awards, in February of 2016, he played during both the pre-telecast and the primetime TV event. That same year, Alexander also performed with Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding for the Obamas at the White House, as part of a nationally televised International Jazz Day special. In 2018, Alexander headlined Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater with a 20-piece string section orchestrated and conducted by Grammy nominee Richard DeRosa. On October 18, 2019, he made his triumphant Carnegie Hall debut to a sold-out Zankel Hall crowd. Early on in Alexander’s ascent, the trumpeter and Jazz at Lincoln Center leader Wynton Marsalis said that “there has never been anyone … who could play like that at his age.” Marsalis, who essentially “discovered” Alexander via his YouTube videos and invited him to New York, was spot-on in his assessment. And today, with his newest album release, WARNA, one can say that Joey Alexander continues to perform at the highest level.
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