Joey Alexander: Seven Big Moments

On The Corner Masthead

Joey Alexander: Seven Big Moments

December 4, 2018 | by Ross Eustis

Joey Alexander and Wynton Marsalis on 60 Minutes

In the span of 7 years, pianist Joey Alexander has gone from an aspiring 8-year-old prodigy living in Jakarta to a world-touring international sensation based in New York City at age 15. We take a look at seven big moments that contributed to the young pianist’s emergence, before he performs at SFJAZZ on December 13-16 with his trio featuring Kris Funn and Kendrick Scott, plus special guest, saxophonist Chris Potter.


8-year-old Joey Alexander plays piano for Herbie Hancock during his visit to Jakarta as a UNESCO goodwill ambassador. Alexander would call it "the day I decided to dedicate my childhood to jazz.”


Joey Alexander wins the Grand Prix at Master-Jam Fest in Ukraine. The competition included 43 musicians from 17 nations. Alexander clearly took inspiration from his meeting with Hancock, as he performed Hancock’s “Sonrisa.”


At age 10, Joey Alexander was invited to New York City by Wynton Marsalis to perform at Jazz At Lincoln Center’s gala, his U.S. debut. Alexander’s rendition of Thelonious Monk’s classic “’Round Midnight” demonstrated mastery of multiple styles of jazz piano, and he became an overnight sensation.


Joey Alexander released his debut album, My Favorite Things, on the Harlem-based label Motéma Music. His expansive version of John Coltrane’s standard “Giant Steps” went viral, and garnered a GRAMMY nomination for “Best Improvised Jazz Solo,” as well as Best Jazz Instrumental Album.


Joey Alexander was featured in a 60 Minutes piece “Little Jazz Man” with Anderson Cooper on CBS!

Also in 2016.

Joey's invited to perform in the 2016 International Jazz Day Global Concert at the White House, playing "Footprints" with jazz legend Wayne Shorter and bassist Esperanza Spalding.


Introduced by the President/CEO of the GRAMMYs and Common, Alexander performed a solo piano piece at the 58th GRAMMYs in front of a star-studded audience.

Honorable Mention: Days ago, Joey Alexander's performance on NPR Music's renowned Tiny Desk was posted. Watch at

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