Joey Alexander, Continuance Review
Continuance: Joey Alexander’s Ode to Jazz’s Ever-Evolving Tale
By Nolan DeBuke
Joey Alexander’s Continuance shows his exceptional talent as a jazz pianist and composer, marking a significant milestone in his already illustrious career. At just 20 years old, Alexander has asserted his position as a jazz prodigy and matured into a formidable bandleader and composer. This album, his seventh, epitomizes a journey of creative evolution and technical mastery that belies his age.
The album is a collaboration of Alexander’s long-time touring band—Kris Funn on bass and John Davis on drums—with the addition of trumpeter Theo Croker, creating a dynamic synergy that transcends the usual boundaries of studio recordings. The ensemble’s approach to improvisation, honed on stage, brings an electric energy to the album, making it feel spontaneous and meticulously crafted.
Continuance is a blend of five original compositions by Alexander and imaginative interpretations of classics like Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” This selection showcases Alexander’s ability to straddle the worlds of innovation and tradition, breathing new life into well-known melodies while introducing his own vibrant compositions.
The album opens with “Blue,” a track that immediately sets the tone for Alexander’s narrative style of composition. Here, a staccato riff evolves into a rhythmic groove, providing a canvas for Croker’s fluid trumpet melody. Alexander’s solo in this piece is a journey in itself, showcasing his ability to convey a range of emotions and stories through his instrument, balancing drama and tranquility with an effortless elegance.
“Hear Me Now” introduces a different texture with the Mellotron’s string sounds, augmenting Alexander’s piano and bringing a classical flair to the jazz setting. This track is a brilliant example of Alexander’s compositional talent, weaving together various moods and harmonic textures to create a rich tapestry of sound. The addition of Croker’s trumpet and the Mellotron creates an almost orchestral feel, while Davis’ drumming injects both energy and sensitivity.
In his rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” Alexander showcases his sophisticated harmonic sensibilities. The fusion of piano and Fender Rhodes, coupled with Funn’s deep bass lines, creates a rich, emotionally resonant soundscape. This track exemplifies Alexander’s skill in reinterpreting familiar tunes through a modern jazz lens, adding depth and complexity to the original composition.
Continuance as a whole is a reflection of Alexander’s growth into a more nuanced and textured musical approach. His emphasis on storytelling through both compositions and solos is indicative of a maturity beyond his years. Alexander understands that music is a medium of emotional communication, not just a display of technical ability. His playing, characterized by a blend of melodic intuition and subtle articulation, confirms his status as a leading figure in the contemporary jazz scene.
In conclusion, Continuance continues Joey Alexander’s remarkable narrative of artistic evolution. Alongside his adept trio and the addition of Theo Croker on select tracks, Alexander crafts an album that simultaneously pays homage to jazz traditions and ventures boldly into new territories. This album’s collection of songs is an emotionally resonant journey marked by a deep, vibrant groove that epitomizes the spirit of jazz. It’s a compelling listen, offering a deep, emotionally engaging experience that resonates with a deep groove that is jazz and, I believe, one that jazz lovers will find highly enjoyable.