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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Monty Alexander: Uplift 2: Higher

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This blazing CD is the official follow-up to the splendid Uplift, which in 2011 was one of the first releases from John Lee's fledgling label, Jazz Legacy Productions. Blending Alexander's past and present compadres--referred to here as “two timeless trios"--Higher features seven tracks with the peerless John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums, and four with the excellent Hassan Shakur and Frits Landesbergen in those respective roles.As with every other Alexander CD--about 70 to date--this one is a swingfest that's guaranteed to buoy the mood and spirit. It begins with rousing arrangements of “The Battle Hymn ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Monty Alexander: New York, February 20-March 4, 2012

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Monty Alexander: 50 Years in Music & 50 Years of Jamaica The Blue Note New York, NY February 20-March 4, 2012Monty Alexander set out an ambitious agenda in trying to showcase all the many facets of his 50-year career in music during this two-week stint at the Blue Note. The pianist sure delivered, though, judging by three shows that featured Alexander side-by-side with several of his many collaborators over the years--some of the top names working in jazz and reggae.February 21: Triple Treat RevisitedTwo nights in the series were dubbed “Triple ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Monty Alexander's '76 Montreux Trio: New York, NY, February 27, 2012

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Monty Alexander's '76 Montreux TrioBlue NoteNew York, NYFebruary 27, 2012At seventeen years of age, pianist Monty Alexander was plucked from obscurity when Frank Sinatra and his club owner buddy Jilly Rizzo heard him play. The Jamaican-born piano phenom was immediately brought into the big time, performing for and with some of the finest musical personalities in the business, and he went on to establish himself as one of the most engaging ivory ticklers of the late twentieth century and beyond. Fifty years have passed since that fateful time, and Alexander has made some stunning records ...

CATCHING UP WITH

Monty Alexander

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Monty Alexander has some great things to celebrate in 2012. For one, he's entered his fiftieth year as a professional musician--a remarkable career where he's made an indelible mark in the world of jazz and in the music of his native Jamaica. For another, he had two hugely successful records in the past year that ranked number one in their radio chart categories for weeks, Uplift (JLP, 2011) featuring his jazz trio, and Harlem-Kingston Express: Live! (Motema Music, 2011), featuring his exciting hybrid jazz and reggae group pictured above. And on top of all this, for the second of the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Monty Alexander: Harlem-Kingston Express Live!

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Many jazz musicians have mined the music of other cultures and countries for new ideas. Many of the most successful combinations have come from importing the music of warmer climates--Afro-Cuban and bossa nova to name but two. Monty Alexander has always done the reverse: a native of Jamaica who played straight-ahead jazz in the States for decades, he has always included some music of his native country in his book. However, for his new group he has gone a step further. The Harlem-Kingston Express (evoking not only the combination of the two cities but also the high-powered excitement ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Monty Alexander: Harlem-Kingson Express: Live at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola

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Pianist Monty Alexander has always worn his Jamaican heart on his sleeve, incorporated his country's good time music with jazz for over 50 years. With Harlem-Kingston Express: Live, his Motéma debut, , he ventures even further into reggae territory. Six of the 11 tracks were recorded in 2010 at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club Coca Cola Club in New York City, with this, his most “reggaefied” group yet. A hybrid crew is onboard, stretched out across the club's stage, with Alexander, the engine, in the middle, at piano and keyboards, pushing and pulling the Express. The rest are connected: ...

LIVE REVIEWS

The Monty Alexander Trio: Toronto, March 5, 2011

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The Monty Alexander TrioKoerner HallToronto, CanadaMarch 5, 2011 For a night of swinging blues, in honor of Oscar Peterson, the Monty Alexander Trio was an ideal choice for the continuing series Aspects of Oscar at Toronto, Canada's Royal Conservatory of Music. The regular trio included bassist Hassan JJ Wiggins Shakur and drummer Winard Harper. To kick things off, each musician of the trio was introduced and started playing an easy swin,g one at a time, to warm up the audience. Alexander added some island flavor with a calypso-inspired tune, “Home," which included an ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Monty Alexander: Uplift

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Virtually everyone who plays with pianist Monty Alexander loves the challenge of keeping up with his mischievous music-making and sudden changes in direction. Then there are those quotes--splashes of everything from bugle calls and nursery rhymes to Duke Ellington and “Meet the Flintstones"--that challenge the listeners' repertoire, as well as adding delight and surprise to each track. Who else, for instance, would begin “Sweet Georgia Brown" with a tongue-in-cheek reference to the opera “Carmen"--and make it work? Uplift is a collection of 10 tunes, three of them Alexander's own, that producer John Lee calls “a masterpiece." That's a ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Monty Alexander: We've Only Just Begun

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Monty Alexander Trio We've Only Just Begun Universal 2006

Pure and simple, the hardest swinging session on record. Of course, what Duke Ellington meant by his famous criterion concerning swing is as debatable as Louis Armstrong's evasive definition of jazz. But if the listener's idea of “swing" goes beyond time-keeping, or a synchronized pulse, or an empathetic “vibe," or even a forceful drive, and insists rather on the presence of a deep and unshakeable “groove," this Monty Alexander on-location trio session, captured at a Buffalo, New York motel on December 1, 1971, must stand ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Monty Alexander: Concrete Jungle - The Music of Bob Marley

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Bob Marley lives. Though the legendary Jamaican songwriter/musician left this Earth in 1981, his music and, therefore, his spirit remain with us. Among those keeping the Marley sound alive is Jamaican-born pianist Monty Alexander. After recording more than sixty solo albums, Alexander joined the Telarc family in 1999 with the release of Stir It Up, a blend of acoustic jazz and reggae rhythms that served as a tribute to Marley. Seven years later, the pianist is at it again with Concrete Jungle - The Music of Bob Marley. Over the years, Alexander has performed or recorded with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Monty Alexander: Concrete Jungle: The Music of Bob Marley

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Seven years after Monty Alexander's first Bob Marley tribute, Stir it Up (his Telarc debut), the pianist interprets Marley's music again on Concrete Jungle, performing eleven of the legendary reggae artist's compositions and one of his own. This time out, the pianist interprets Marley's songs with a feeling for the blues and folk music textures contained in the music. Reggae remains close at hand, and a clarion vocal emphasis shares the spotlight with Alexander's piano. Lyrics are brought into the forum with clarity.

Rhythms, naturally, play a large part in Alexander's interpretations. He delivers several pieces delicately as ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Monty Alexander: In Tokyo, Live at Iridium and Steaming Hot

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The task of listening to all three of these CDs led by the great pianist Monty Alexander (actually four, Steaming Hot being a double disc) is both pleasurable and daunting. There's a “something for everyone type of quality: great for a person that you would like to interest in jazz because of their “good times feel; good for students of the music who would be sure to find a goldmine of techniques and approaches on a wide variety of material; not to mention for the general jazz listener who wants to check into the work of one of the established ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Monty Alexander: Live at the Iridium

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Take equal parts of Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, and Gene Harris, add a jigger of Jamaican rum, steep the mix in the spirits of Louis, Nat, and the Count--and you've got a master musician, not to mention a superior piano album and an inspired live recording session that is already looking like one of the outstanding releases for 2005.

This is Monty Alexander's best recording in at least ten, if not fifteen years, an album that brings to mind his admired 1976 Montreux concert album and even recalls some of the youthful fire that characterized his exuberant, tireless playing in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Monty Alexander: Live at the Iridium

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It's always good to open a concert with something familiar--especially when said opening is an extended play offering that allows the performers plenty of opportunity to stretch out. That's how Monty Alexander and his sidemen approached “The Work Song"? on Live at the Iridium. Comprised of some of Alexander's finest compositions and a few numbers from composers he has long admired, the album was recorded in May 2004 at the New York City jazz club and showcases Alexander's skill as a musician and bandleader. The opening number, a ten-minute opus that gives all players a moment in the ...



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