Wynton Marsalis: Piano Prodigy Joey Alexander Is 'Not Something You Can Even Explain'

The Indonesian piano prodigy Joey Alexander (Carol Friedman)

The 13-year-old Balinese jazz prodigy Joey Alexander is no stranger to accolades: His brilliant piano playing has brought artists as diverse as Taylor Swift and Common to their feet, and he has even performed in front of President Obama. Few of his admirers, though, are as fervent as the legendary trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, himself a former child prodigy.

In a profile published Monday morning in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Marsalis praised Alexander at length:

[Marsalis] immediately dismissed any comparison between himself as a teen-aged trumpet prodigy and Alexander, whose audacious second album, “Countdown,” has just been released. Marsalis was just 18 when he began touring the world in 1980 as the youngest member in drum great Art Blakey’s storied Jazz Messengers. It was the start of a career that saw him become one of the most accomplished, prolific and prominent jazz champions the music has ever known.

“I wasn’t anywhere near Joey’s sophistication at his age, nor has anyone I know ever been,” Marsalis stressed. “I didn’t ever think of myself, at all, being on his level.”

On October 27, Alexander will perform at the 2016 Asia Society Asia Game Changers ceremony at the United Nations. Unfamiliar with the teenager's work? Here's a peek, courtesy of CBS News:

About the Author

Profile picture for user Matt Schiavenza

Matt Schiavenza is the Assistant Director of Content at Asia Society. His work has appeared at The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, The New Republic, Fortune, and strategy + business among other publications.