Joey Alexander | Continuance Review
by Darnell Jackson
Joey Alexander’s Continuance resonates with the intricate rhythms and evocative storytelling of contemporary jazz. Anchored by the core trio of Kris Funn on upright bass, John Davis on drums, and embellished by trumpeter Theo Croker on four tracks, the album pulsates with the vitality of today’s jazz scene. In his seventh studio venture, Alexander presents seven tracks, including five original compositions that showcase a harmonious blend of youthful exuberance and refined musical insight. Alexander’s pivotal role as the pianist and creative force behind Continuance marks a new chapter in his artistic journey, where innovative interpretations and emotional depth converge to create an enjoyable listening experience.
At the tender age of 20, Joey Alexander has already established himself as a prodigy in the world of jazz piano. His latest offering, Continuance, shows he is an ever-evolving artist. The album is a captivating journey through Alexander’s creative psyche, showcasing his skills as a pianist and his emerging talent as a composer.
Opening with “Blue,” Alexander sets the stage with a staccato riff that unfolds into a compelling groove, developed alongside the rhythmic clarity and chemistry of Funn’s bass and Davis’ drums. Croker’s trumpet melds into this tapestry, weaving a warm and inviting melody. Alexander’s solo in this piece is a story in itself, a narrative that flows through peaks and valleys of emotion, all delivered with his signature elegant and relaxed rhythmic style.
“Hear Me Now” introduces a different sonic landscape, blending the Mellotron’s string sounds with Alexander’s acoustic piano. This track is a beautiful confluence of classical influences and jazz sensibilities, enriched by Croker’s trumpet and Davis’ energetic drumming. Alexander’s integrating the Mellotron with the piano creates a uniquely colorful and textured sound that speaks volumes of his experimental boldness.
The rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” is a standout track, illustrating Alexander’s ability to reimagine familiar tunes through a modern jazz lens. His use of piano and Fender Rhodes adds layers of rich, emotional texture, complemented by Funn’s deep, resonant bass. It’s a poignant example of Alexander’s harmonic sophistication and his knack for infusing well-known melodies with fresh, jazz-infused vitality.
Continuance marks a significant milestone in Alexander’s musical journey. It is a move towards a more textured and nuanced sound, where straight eights and emotive melodies support deep grooves and thematic storytelling. Alexander’s compositions are thoughtfully crafted, with a clear emphasis on conveying emotions rather than showcasing technical prowess. His playing is melodically rich, and he masterfully uses nuances of touch and tone to express a wide range of feelings. The inclusion of Theo Croker’s trumpet adds a vibrant layer to the album, enhancing the overall experience.
Joey Alexander’s Continuance shows his growth as a musician, bandleader, and composer. It’s an album that resonates with the soul of modern jazz, offering listeners a chance to witness the evolution of Alexander’s expanding view of music. With exceptional compositions and heartfelt performances, it is another beautiful addition to Alexander’s discography.
Release Date: November 3, 2023
Label: Mack Avenue Records