Artist/Band: Joey Alexander Trio
Release date: 2017/07/12
Venue: The National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2
Reviewer name: Grainne Farren
Just turned fourteen, the diminutive Joey Alexander looked even younger as he sat down at the Steinway Concert Grand. The Bali-born pianist began with a lyrical solo treatment of the Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’. Then he called Colette Cassidy to come on stage. One of our finest Irish singers, Colette had opened the concert with Nigel Clark on guitar. Now Joey accompanied her as she sang ‘Smile’.
Alex Claffy (double bass) and Willie Jones III (drums) joined him for the rest of the evening, providing strong support for the teenage phenomenon. Despite some over-busy drumming from Jones, the pianist was always the leader in a programme that included some of his own compositions. More than a gifted musician in terms of skill, he played with feeling, swing and imagination. Occasionally he appeared to be probing and searching, then the music poured from his fingers in an effortless flow.
The programme was remarkable for diversity of mood and pace. A flamboyant treatment of John Coltrane’s ‘Countdown’ was followed by a romantic waltz and then a churchy number called ‘Space’, both enhanced by Claffy’s bass solos. A sparkling version of ‘My Favourite Things’ again invoked Coltrane who famously transformed the musical comedy ditty into a powerful jazz standard. Going further back in jazz history, Joey played a bit of boogie that metamorphosed into Thelonious Monk. The encore was a spirited gospel tune that belied its gloomy title, ‘I Am Dying All Alone’. A tremendous concert by a musician who has a great future before him.