Alex Koo is a young up-and-coming Belgian-Japanese pianist/composer who has already won numerous prizes, such as first prizes in the Prinses Christina Competition (NL), the SABAM B-Jazz Composition Award 2015 (BE), the SENA Dordtse Jazzprijs 2014 (NL), a Fulbright Award-Music Fellowship (USA-BE), a Prins Bernhard Culture Fund Prize (NL) and a Belgian American Educational Foundation Music Fellowship (BE-USA).
During his period living in New York, he formed a new acoustic chamber trio with two of the scene’s most innovative and sought after musicians: Mark Turner (sax) and Ralph Alessi (trumpet). In April 2017 they recorded their CD in Oktaven Audio, New York, which will be released later in 2018.
Meanwhile Alex has already released two CD’s with Clever Tree Records. In 2014 he presented his debut album ‘Dance of Hope’, which was positively received in both national and international press (Cobra.be-Marc Van den Hoof, Radio6NL, Jazzism, Jazzenzo, Jazzflits), dedicated to his mentor and above all his close friend, the late Belgian pianist Kris Goessens. A bit further in time, together with Hungarian drummer Attila Gyárfás, he formed a new duoproject, dubbed ‘i.f.o’ (Identified Flying Object). Their CD ‘Galactic Liturgy’ was released through Clever Tree Records (May 8th 2017) and is almost entirely made up of music that was completely improvised on the spot, which is the main goal of this project.
One of Alex’s newest projects is his piano trio that explores both the limits of improvisation, while still holding on to the key elements of the jazz tradition: his piano trio with Dré Pallemaerts (drums) and Lennart Heyndels (double bass). Time and time again, their music comes afloat in a fresh and sincere manner: this trio plays straight from the heart, with their ears wide open and their spirits connected through interplay.
A lot can also be said about Alex’s early musical development: Coming from a musical family, with two older brothers playing the violin, Alex started taking piano lessons at the age of five. Only ten years of age, Alex became a laureate in the Cantabile Piano Competition and won two extra prizes: the prize ‘Emmanuel Durlet’ for the best interpretation of the required piece and the prize ‘Chris Van Hoof’ for the youngest laureate.
After many years of playing only classical music, Alex became interested in jazz music and improvisation, resulting in him taking jazz lessons at the Conservatory of Kortrijk (Belgium), where he graduated with highest distinction, for which he received the prize ‘Van der Weyden’.
Alex then moved to The Netherlands, where he completed both his Bachelor and Master’s Degree at the Conservatory of Amsterdam (including a one year exchange in the Rhythmic Music Conservatory of Copenhagen, Denmark). After this, with the intention of supporting his pursuit in music composition, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, a Belgian American Educational Foundation Music Fellowship, a Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Award and a Robus Foundation Award to complete a two year Master degree in Jazz Composition at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture.
He has worked with artists such as: Kurt Elling, Mark Turner, Ralph Alessi, Bert Joris, Peter Bernstein, Benjamin Herman, Mike Mainieri, John Ruocco, Jasper Blom, Martijn Vink, Dré Pallemaerts, Stefan Lievestro, Clemens van der Feen, … and has toured and performed extensively as a leader and sideman in many festivals and venues all over the world, including: North Sea Jazz Festival, Bimhuis , Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ, Lantaren/Venster (NL), Casa del Jazz (IT), ShapeShifter Lab (NY,USA), Warsaw Summer Jazz Days (PO), Kongsberg Jazz Festival (NO), Jass sur Son 31 (FR), Copenhagen Jazz Festival (DK) among other venues in Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Bosnia, United States, …
Alex has studied with: Kris Goessens, Brad Mehldau, Kenny Werner and Barry Harris and is currently part of several projects, including the Lorena del Mar Quartet, the LG Jazz Collective, Thomas Decock’s ‘Light Travelers’, and the Norwegian Magnus Oseth Quartet.