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Monty Alexander: Live at the Iridium

Franz A. Matzner By

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Celebrating almost fifty years of professional music, Live at the Iridium is a fitting testament to the unique passion and tremendous talent of master improviser Monty Alexander.

Alexander began his career as a youth in Jamaica, where he first encountered jazz through live concerts performed by such iconic figures as Louis Armstrong. This early exposure launched Alexander on a tremendous journey of discovery that would not only bring jazz to Alexander, but the rhythms, sounds, and styles of Jamaica to jazz.

What better way, then, to mark the pianist's ongoing legacy than a recording which captures Alexander in the arena he has come to master: live performance. Those who have heard him play will attest to the infectious quality of his style, bristling with an optimism neither trite nor contrived, but developed over a lifetime of experience.

Performed with Alexander's current preferred lineup of Hassan Shakur on bass and Mark Taylor on drums, with the addition of Robert Thomas, Jr. on hand drums, the album presents nine tunes, including standards and Alexander originals. From the extended, swinging opener "The Work Song"? to the contemplative ballad "The River,"? to the jaunty, hand drum driven "Mount Zanda,"? Alexander's playing bursts with energy and overflows with his characteristic ability to seamlessly incorporate quote after quote, and reference after reference without either breaking stride or subverting the continuity and power of his playing. This is live music as it should be, flowing free and effortlessly from the very center of the musician's personality.

Those familiar with Alexander's exploits and long history will undoubtedly check out this slice of his career, and those unfamiliar will find this a worthy introduction.

Track Listing: 1. Work Song, The; 2. Slappin'; 3. My Mother's Eyes; 4. Happylypso / Funji Mama; 5. River, The; 6. Runnin' Away; 7. Little Darlin'; 8. Mount Zanda; 9. That's The Way It Is.

Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano); Hassan Shakur (bass instrument); Robert Thomas Jr. (drums, percussion); Mark Taylor (drums). Recording information: Iridium Jazz Club, New York, New York (05/21/2004 - 05/23/2004).

Title: Live At The Iridium | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Telarc Records

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