Jazz Album of the Week: 16-Year-Old Jazz Pianist Joey Alexander Gives Us WARNA

Mar 23, 2020

March 23, 2020. Joey Alexander has been known as a jazz piano phenom since the release of his first album back in 2015, when he was only 11. Now, the 16-year-old offers Warna, an album that boasts 10 original compositions, two fantastic interpretations, and an artist who has solidified his place in the jazz world (even without the novelty of being a little kid).

Joey, a native of Indonesia, kicks off this album with the title track “Warna,” which translates to “color” in the language of Bahasa. The tune is quick and uplifting, and certainly keeps bassist Larry Grenadier and percussionist Luisito Quintero quite busy.

Drummer Kendrick Scott gets a workout on Joey’s take on Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge,” which truly displays the leader’s technical chops. The other arrangement on this album is a jazz version of Sting’s “Fragile,” on which Quintero’s hands add the spice that brings the melody (maintained by Joey) to life.

Historically (if you can use that word regarding a 16-year-old), Joey has a knack for composing music based on current life experiences, and this album follows suit, this time focusing on tour experiences. “Lonely Street” stems from riding through many strange towns, is a flowing tune where you can sense the camaraderie of the trio.  That fellowship is also apparent on “Downtime.” The title is self-explanatory.

“Tis Our Prayer” is lovely and reflective, and commemorates the group’s pre-show ritual of praying together and practicing gratitude for being able to share their music with so many people.

At a time like this, we at WRTI are grateful to be able to share wonderful new music with you. Thank you for continuing to engage with us.