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Joey steals the show at White House Jazz Day

Young Indonesian pianist Joey Alexander showed off his musical talent at the White House in Washington, DC on the fifth International Jazz Day, on Saturday.

The 12-year-old performed at the prestigious event opened by US President Barack Obama.

Joey played piano in the grand foyer of the White House with Wayne Shorter on saxophone and Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding on bass. They performed jazz classic “Footprints”, following a performance from Canadian chanteuse Diana Krall.

The event showed the rich cultural diversity of jazz musicians. Besides Joey, who is also the first Indonesian musician to play at the White House, the event featured Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain, West African Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke and Australian trumpeter James Morrison.

It not only featured prominent jazz artists from around the globe but also Aretha Franklin, Buddy Guy and Sting.

As the centerpiece of International Jazz Day — presented by UNESCO — the event was a show of musical kinship across every kind of border, The New York Times reported.

At the same time, it was a gala jazz concert at the White House, only the third of its kind. For precedent, you would have to look back to the administrations of Jimmy Carter ( in 1978 ) and Bill Clinton ( in 1993 ).

It had all due pageantry and production value, befitting the official stature of music that President Obama characterized, in his welcoming remarks, as “driven by an unmistakably American spirit”.

He added: “It is, in so many ways, the story of our nation’s progress: Born out of the struggle of African-Americans yearning for freedom. Forged in a crucible of cultures — a product of the diversity that would forever define our nation’s greatness.”

Joey’s performance is another breakthrough from the young musician after in February, he became the first and youngest Indonesian musician to receive a nomination and perform twice at the Grammy Awards, where he received a standing ovation.

Record company Warner Music said it would also rerelease Joey’s debut album My Favorite Things in Indonesia in early May before his upcoming concert in Jakarta. According to his official website, joeyalexandermusic.com, Joey will perform at the Jakarta International Expo on May 22 before performing in Singapore at the Esplanade Recital Studio two days later.

The album will contain 10 songs, while the digital download and streaming format will contain 12.

“There is one new song, ‘Señor Blues’, on the album dedicated to Indonesian fans,” a press release stated.

Warner Music Indonesia managing director Toto Widjojo said he was very proud to present Joey’s album in the country.

“This can inspire Indonesian musicians to have the spirit to produce music and become global musicians – something that has been proven by this 12-year-old kid,” he said.

Source: The Jakarta Post