Sixteen is an exciting age. It’s the time when most kids get their driver’s licenses and start making their first moves toward independence, among other changes that happen on the way to adulthood.
Then there is Joey Alexander. We’re not sure whether he’s driving a car this year, but the kid plays piano like a full-grown man. And he has been for years.
Alexander plays Jefferson Center’s Jazz Series on Friday, at the venue’s Shaftman Performance Hall. Even before he turned 16, he was doing big-boy stuff. The Indonesian-born New York resident signed a record deal at 10 and has two Grammy Award nominations. He has played music with Wynton Marsalis and Esperanza Spalding, among many others. He performed at the White House in May 2016, and debuted at Carnegie Hall in October — just a couple of gigs in a career that has already taken him around the planet.
The two-time Grammy Award nominee — for 2015 album “My Favorite Things” and 2016 release “Countdown” — recently signed with storied jazz imprint Verve. The title track of his 2018 album, “Eclipse,” is more than 10 minutes of beautifully improvised music, recorded right after Alexander and his band took a break to watch the 2017 eclipse.
“I’m thankful to God that I had the confidence and courage to do this,” he said in a biographical article on his website. “But it’s also about how much [the musicians] trust each other. I knew they’d be with me even though you don’t know where you’re going to go on the journey. It’s all about exploring the new.”
Drummer Kendrick Scott and bassist Kris Funn round out Alexander’s Jefferson Center show lineup.
We were unable to connect with Alexander for an interview.