I have a longstanding rule regarding child prodigies who emerge on waves of publicity: Approach with caution.
When the eleven-year-old Indonesian pianist Joey Alexander materialized last year in a flurry of accolades from Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock and others, I kept him at arm’s length. Now, I have paid close attention to his debut album, My Favorite Things, and his second, Countdown. When someone proclaims the next new jazz giant, I will not abandon the practice of skepticism but I am happy to praise Mr. Alexander as that rare surprise, an extremely young soloist who materializes with developed technical and creative skills. Whether he will develop into a jazz master, no one can say. At this juncture, he is a good player, worthy of the attention he is getting.
Recently, some of that attention came from the veteran jazz journalist Paul Conley of Capitol Radio in Sacramento, California. With Paul’s permission, here is a link to his report.
In his debut album, Joey Alexander chose to open with John Coltrane’s daunting “Giant Steps.” His accompanists were bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr.