Saturday, May 27, 2017

Joey Alexander "Countdown"

There's no doubt that Indonesian born prodigy Joey Alexander is the current wunderkind of jazz piano. And there's nothing gimmicky about it. He is thirteen years old and he plays straight ahead swinging jazz like someone three times his age. It's a joy to hear because it's all real---no sideshow antics here. Among three originals on the album, check out the lilting "Sunday Waltz". Pretty, melodic ideas meet a touch of gospel. Or, you might like to check him out on Monk's tricky classic "Criss Cross". Kids are simply not supposed to tackle such things, but Alexander nails it. Then there's the wisdom of Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge". It's just about perfect. He's equally impressive on "Smile", "Countdown", and "Maiden Voyage", among others. Incidentally, saxophonist Chris Potter is a guest on the latter tune. Alexander and his two trios stand out on all additional tracks. One can hear influences of Ahmad Jamal, Oscar Peterson and other giants here. Is Joey Alexander a savant? Probably. But it's a sure thing that at a tender age he's a fully mature jazz pianist.

Motéma Music; 2016; appx. 63 min.

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