Joey Alexander: True Boy Wonder of the Jazz World

Twelve year old Joey Alexander may be the youngest musician ever to emerge in the professional jazz world. A self-taught pianist, he indeed became this year the youngest artist ever to perform at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival. Beyond his remarkable technical accomplishment in so few years, he is also a brilliant arranger and improviser, surprising his rhythm sections with unexpected changes and variations on the tunes he performs so beautifully with the confidence and finesse of a much older and more seasoned player.

And remarkable enough already at age 8 to impress ivories master Herbie Hancock, whose encouragement led to Joey's family's move from their native Jakarta to NYC last year, following a performance at Lincoln Center at 10, under invitation from Wynton Marsallis, who discovered the young prodigy on YouTube. Joey's debut album followed this year, along with additional major festival and TV appearances, and he is already being called an overnight sensation.

So you may have already discovered him - but either way, be sure to have a listen to this stirring solo take on Paul McCartney's classic "Blackbird." And close your eyes now and then to experience the genius of his playing while forgetting for a moment that this is a young kid who just decided one day at the age of 6 that he wanted to figure out for himself what Thelonious Monk was doing on those old jazz records his dad had introduced him to. And then look back again at that brilliant smile and the lost-in-his-music look in his eyes as you marvel at the wonder and potential of a curious child encouraged to explore whatever truly lights a spark within.