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On 'Warna,' Joey Alexander sounds more mature and reflective than his young age / Gina Loves Jazz

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When I went to Bremen for the annual Jazzahead convention in 2015, there was this big hype about 12-year old pianist Joey Alexander who was about to release his debut album "My Favorite Things". Alas, I wasn't impressed and his showcase left me cold. But he wasn't really to blame for it. After all, when you're 12 years old, you want to explore things, invent, experiment, show off etc. Natural things you're likely to do at this young age. Technically speaking, there were simply too many notes and this attitude of "look what I'm capable of on the piano". Again, I'm not really condemning Joey personally for this.

So now, five years later, at age 17, he just released "Warna" at the end of January, his fifth album and his first for a major label (Verve). Warna means color in his native language Bahasa (Indonesia) and here's an album that sounds much more mature and reflective as you might expect from someone at such a young age. All tracks are original compositions except two by Joe Henderson ("Inner Urge") and Sting ("Fragile"). Joey has worked with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Kendrick Scott for his new outing. Additional guests are percussionist Luisito Quintero and flutist Anne Drummond.