Serambi Jazz 2013: Joey Alexander – The Report




Indonesia is blessed with so many music talents, spread over so many genres, including jazz. Jazz isn’t originated from this country but in USA, yet we never run out of talent. Throughout generation we have seen many players with amazing skills, some even miraculously appeared and hatched early. The most recent miracle is a little boy, age 10, named Josiah Alexander Sila, better known as just Joey Alexander.

[flickr id=”9693180774″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”right”] Who could imagine a 10 year old Indonesian boy being the headline in the international jazz scene? It’s difficult to imagine, but yes, that has happened. Several month ago he won the Master-Jam Fest competition in the beautiful city of Odessa, Ukraine. There he stunned the panel of judges which consisted of world’s finest jazz connoisseurs. He won over hundreds of contestants from around the world, many of them were the jazz experts who have already played for many decades. Two years ago at the age of 8 he has got a tremendous and rare honor to play solo in front of jazz living legend Herbie Hancock when this iconic man came to Indonesia as a goodwill ambassador of UNESCO. He has played with much senior jazz cats and legends, he’s performed in many prestigious world-class festivals. With all these unbelievable achievement bagged by a player as young as Joey, one must wonder, how could it happen? When did he started? This seems to be a question that can only be answered by connecting it to God. That’s also exactly what Joey said when the MC of Serambi Jazz, Mr Denny Sakrie asked him the same question. “It’s a blessing from God,” said Joey.


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If you’re still curious of him, let us share some of his profile. Joey was born in Denpasar, Bali on June 25, 2003. His parents bought him a mini keyboard when he was 6 years old. To their surprise, Joey played the melody line of Thelonious Monk’s classic, “Well You Needn’t” out of nowhere. His parents directly gave him piano lesson. This little boy chewed everything up in no time. In just a year or so, he could already play difficult jazz renditions, mastering the improvisation with perfect skill that enabled him to play alongside big names in spontaneous jam sessions.

All these wonderful stories attracted Serambi Jazz, a successful 2 monthly program of Goethe Institut Jakarta to feature him in the August edition of its 5th consecutive year in 2013 which directly placed Joey as the youngest musicians ever played for Serambi Jazz especially as the featured star.

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[flickr id=”9693180646″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”left”] Last Thursday on August 29th 2013 all seats were full inside the GoetheHaus. As usual it was presented free, yet once again the audience got high quality jazz performance.  After throwing some jokes, Denny Sakrie called the wonder boy to meet him on stage. “Good evening, thanks for coming to our show”, said Joey. Then he introduced Doni Sundjoyo on doublebass, Elfa Zulham on drums and Indra Dauna on trumpet. These amazing musicians have performed in Serambi Jazz many times, this time they were set to accompany Joey.

Joey started with Miles Davis’ composition from 1954, “Walkin” After playing this song in which Joey showed his speed accompanied by the beat of the drum and crunchy rhythm, he showed us his tremendous skill when he ran solo on John Coltrane’s “Countdown”. Another example of cool improvisation took place when he played “Amazing Grace” with a touch of modern jazz influence. For the next song Joey let the band member, Indra Dauna to shine with his trumpet. A big surprise came when “Bengawan Solo”, one of the national masterpiece written by the late maestro Gesang came from him in interesting jazz twist, totally different from the original version we used to hear. Everyone enjoyed his performance, admiring his magic little fingers, his trancing gesture, and his joyful expression that surely can make you more addict to jazz. Another mesmerizing harmony reflected when Joey played a song written by a famous German composer named Kurt Weill entitled “My Ship.” Denny Sakrie said that Joey played like a late French jazz pianist, Michel Petrucciani. A beautiful rendition of Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” ended Joey’s performance that night.

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Everybody was satisfied and fully entetained with this genius kid and his compatriotes’ performance. Joey promised that someday he will show us his original compositions. We certainly can’t wait for that, and hopefully, he will also enter the recording world and release a lot of albums. Joey is very promising, one of the most amazing talents emerged so far. According to his age he’s still a cub, but he can already roar proudly like a tough lion. One thing that makes us wonder is how he’ll become when he grows up. If he can already play like this, how will it be in a couple of years from now? Well, the young Joey has just started. There will be many success stories and achievements from him in the future that can make us proud. Another good round, good pick with good result from Serambi Jazz. Definitely Joey can inspire the young generation to shine since the childhood. While most of the kids at his age are still enjoying their childhood life by having full support from their parents, Joey has already received recognition not only from his own country but also internationally. Great performance, kiddo, we’re proud of you!

See more pictures:

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Reporter: Reita Wijaya
Photographer: Fennysia Wijaya
Editor: Riandy Kurniawan


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