Playlist | We asked pianist Joey Alexander: What's your favorite song?

Critics and fellow musicians have been quick to list 14-year-old pianist Joey Alexander among their favorite jazz musicians. Wynton Marsalis and Herbie Hancock, for instance, have given him their blessings. Alexander, born Josiah Alexander Sila in Bali, has received three Grammy nominations during his career, and his latest album, "Eclipse," is due out May 4.

But the jazz virtuoso isn't so keen to play favorites himself. Country song? Nope. Rock 'n' roll tune? Nada. Pop ballad? Well, you'll see. Alexander answered some questions by phone in advance of his trio's show at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Sunday, May 6 (7 p.m., $29-$84). The interview has been edited for length.

What's your favorite song to dance to?

That's a pretty difficult question. I would say every song that I play, I try to dance with it. And of course, swing — when you hear swing, there's a dance kind of feel.

What's your favorite pop song?

Maybe another time ... I mean I like Bruno Mars, but I'm not sure what song, though.

What's your favorite Thelonious Monk song? [When The Eagle asked Alexander about his major musical influences last year before his Tanglewood concert, he said, "Obviously, it's God and Thelonious Monk."]

He has a lot of amazing compositions, but I would say one of them would be "'Round Midnight."

Why that one?

It's such a powerful melody. The melody is so beautiful, and it always sticks with you. That's why I still love playing his songs.

Do you ever find yourself singing along to something in the car?

Maybe. Sometimes, I listen to gospel music. When I listen to Aretha Franklin's music, gospel songs, sometimes I will sing along with it. Something like that.

What's your favorite gospel song?

That's a very good one. I think they are all special to me — "His Eye Is on the Sparrow." I also love playing that song. I also [have one] on the [new] album called "Draw Me Nearer."

What's your favorite song that tells a story?

I think the [composition] itself is what I think [about] when I listen to new albums or Thelonious Monk. Even without lyrics, there's a story for it.

What's your favorite song to perform live?

Everything is all I can say.

Benjamin Cassidy can be reached at, at @bybencassidy on Twitter and 413-496-6251.


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