‘One of the best piano players in the world’: Teen prodigy jazzes up Edmonton festival

Joey Alexander has been playing piano for almost half of his life—although he’s only 16 years old.

The teen prodigy’s career may not be long, but it is envied by musicians much older. Alexander has already recorded two Grammy-nominated albums and has had a record on Billboard’s Top-200 chart. 

Music has come naturally to him since he taught himself to play music on his family’s piano in Indonesia.

“I believe this is God’s gift for me to share and share this music,” Alexander said. “It’s special to me and spiritual as well.”

Alexander got his big break after being discovered by legendary trumpet player Wynton Marselis, who invited the teen to play a concert with him in New York. Shortly after, Alexander was a rising star in the jazz world.

He says Marselis not only changed his life, but changed his attitude towards playing.

“It’s very encouraging and to be honest it’s a responsibility,” Alexander said about being mentored by Marselis.

The artistic director of the Edmonton International Jazz Festival was excited to land the teen for a headlining show Wednesday at MacEwan University. 

“He’s literally one of the best piano players in the world, period,” Kent Sanggter said. “Not just for a 16-year-old.”

And at 16, Alexander believes he is learning and getting better every day. And he hopes to inspire people to get jazzed about jazz, like he did as a very young boy.

“I hope to bring more people listening to my music and bring joy, so that’s my goal,” Alexander said.​