Monty Alexander: Impressions in Blue (2003)
Monty Alexander covers a wide swath of musical territory on Impressions in Blue. The Jamaican-born pianist leads his fine trio (with Hassan Shakur on bass and Mark Taylor on drums) from the Caribbean to Spain to the American West, with stops in the land of Duke and the kingdom of Cole, over the course of the eleven numbers here.
A versatile musician with chops to spare, Alexander is equally at home on adaptations of classical pieces like Rodrigo's "En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor" (the oft-recorded composition first made popular by Miles and Gil Evans) and Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" as he is on a pair of gospel-tinged Ellington tunes. Of special note are a trio of songs associated with Nat King Cole, which feature some fine swing guitar work from John Pizzarelli, taking time off from those ubiquitous casino commercials.
As an heir to the mainstream piano trio tradition of Oscar Peterson (and Cole and Art Tatum before him), Alexander certainly knows how to swing hard, but there's also an underlying breeziness to his playing that comes to the fore on three original tunes (collectively titled "Where the Trade Winds Blow"), each inspired by a different Caribbean island.
Alexander heads way out west to close this enjoyable journey, following in Sonny Rollins' footsteps with a lighthearted romp through Johnny Mercer's "I'm an Old Cowhand."
This review originally appeared in AllAboutJazz-New York .
Track Listing: 1. Blue Rhapsody 5:43 2. En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor 10:21 3. Duke Reflections: Come Sunday/David Danced 4:42 4. Duke Reflections: Creole Love Call 5:23 5. Where the Trade Winds Blow: Accompong 4:07 6. Where the Trade Winds Blow: Pointe-
Personnel: Monty Alexander - piano; Mark Taylor - drums; Hassan J.J. Wiggins Shakur - bass.