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What does it mean to be an American?
For Jamaican-born pianist Monty Alexander, it means one thing – music. Yet within that one thing lies an impressive diversity which Alexander tackles...impressively.
These tunes range from pop standards like Kurt Weill’s "Mack the Kinife" and Nat Cole’s "Straighten Up and Fly Right" (sung by Nat’s son Freddy) to soul classics like Rev. Al Green’s "Love and Happiness" and Marvin Gaye’s "Sexual Healing." Speaking of "sex" (another great American pastime), Alexander lays down the funk on an extended "soul/yard meeting" of James Brown’s "Sex Machine." Speaking of special guests (and soul), in additionto the younger Cole, another famous son, John Pizzarelli, takes his turn at the mike for a Jamaican-tinged zephyr through Johnny Mercer’s "Summer Wind," and Kevin Mahogany does the honors for the Ray Charles classic "Hallelujah I Love Her So." That is not to say that this is strictly a standards and soul album, however. In tribute to his early cowboy heroes, Alexander opens the set with Cole Porter’s jaunty "Don’t Fence Me In," and in honor to the country he is now proud to call home, he closes with a triumphant build into "Battle Hymn of the Republic." In between is a musical portrait of our great country and the great men who have set it to music.
Track Listing: 1. Don't Fence Me In
2. Straighten Up and Fly Right
3. Love and Happiness
4. Rockin' in Riddim
5. Mack the Knife
6. Summer Wind
7. Honky Tonk
8. Hallelujah I Love Her So
9. Sex Machine (Soul/Yard Meeting)
10. Sexual Healing
11. River Rolls On
12. Battle Hymn of the Republic (Glory Hallelujah)
Personnel: Monty Alexander - piano, melodica
With Guest Vocalists:
Freddy Cole - vocals
Kevin Mahogany - vocals
John Pizzarelli - vocals
Glen Browne -- musical director
Dalton Brown -- rhythm guitar
Derek DiCenzo -- lead guitar
Leon Duncan -- bass
Desi Jones -- drums
Leroy Romans -- keyboards
Bobby Thomas, Jr. -- hand drums, percussion