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TED2015

Joey Alexander: An 11-year-old prodigy performs old-school jazz

March 25, 2015

Raised listening to his dad's old records, Joey Alexander plays a brand of sharp, modern piano jazz that you likely wouldn't expect to hear from a pre-teenager. Listen as the 11-year-old delights the TED crowd with his very special performance of a Thelonious Monk classic.

Joey Alexander - Jazz pianist
Young piano player Joey Alexander has an old soul's gift for jazz. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
(Music)
00:21
(Music) (Applause)
04:11
(Applause)
06:13

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Joey Alexander - Jazz pianist
Young piano player Joey Alexander has an old soul's gift for jazz.

Why you should listen

A native of Bali, Joey Alexander taught himself to play piano by listening to classic jazz albums his father shared with him. Alexander’s father recognized his son’s ear for jazz, and soon he was sitting in on jam sessions with senior musicians. And a (very) few years later, he's playing for worldwide audiences from Jakarta to Copenhagen to Washington, DC.

Influenced by Monk, Coltrane and his mutual fan, Herbie Hancock, Alexander's style is "technically fluent and harmonically astute," says the New York Times, and marked by large-canvas musical ideas -- as seen in a legendary rehearsal-room take on "Giant Steps" in which the shifting chords and dizzy runs fly out from his tiny fingers. His new record, My Favorite Things, was released in 2015.

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