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Twelve Things You Didn't Know About Joey Alexander


Joey Alexander. Photo by Frank Stewart for Jazz at Lincoln Center.

News | Jan, 5th 2016

He's not even a teenager yet, but there's already a lot to know about 12-year-old prodigy Joey Alexander. The pint-sized pianist released his first album to much acclaim last year, and his performances are drawing large crowds of jazz fans all over the world.  

So—in advance of his upcoming January 17th webcast, live and freefrom Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola—here's a list of things you may not have known about Joey: one for every year he's lived.

1. He's the youngest-ever nominee for a GRAMMY Award in any jazz category.

2. Joey hails from Denpasar—the capital of Bali, Indonesia. That's roughly 10,000 miles away from New York City, his new home.

3. Joey's first experience with jazz came when he was still in the womb, listening to Louis Armstrong records played by his father.

4. For the most part, Joey taught himself how to play piano. He had an instructor briefly, not long after he first started playing, but the teacher's classical background didn't suit Joey's approach. 

5. On his debut album My Favorite ThingsJoey is joined by musicians including bassist Russell Hall, drummer Sammy Miller, and trumpeter Alphonso Horne—all regulars at Jazz at Lincoln Center, especially at Dizzy's Club Coca-Colalate-night sessions.

6. In addition to being championed by Wynton Marsalis, My Favorite Things was produced by Jason Olaine, the director of programming and touring for Jazz at Lincoln Center.

7. In 2013, Joey participated in the Master-Jam Fest competition in Ukraine, facing off against more than 40 professional adult jazz musicians. Joey won.

8. Joey's first "piano" was actually a tiny electronic keyboard, brought home for him when he was six by his father. He now practices on a Steinway at home.

9. Joey's full name is Josiah Alexander Sila.

10. It was Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, widow of tennis great Arthur Ashe, who took Joey to his audition for George Wein and helped him secure a spot at the Newport Jazz Festival.

11. Joey first played through John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" when he was eight years old. 

12. Joey will be playing at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola January 15-17, and both his sets on Sunday the 17th—at 7 and 9 ET—will be livestreamed for free at jazz.org/live.Don't miss it! 


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