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Monty Alexander: Wareika Hill (RastaMonk Vibrations) (MACD)

“Like a Rastafarian in Jamaica, he was different,” Jamaican-born pianist Monty Alexander says of Thelonious Monk, whom he first heard in person at New York City’s legendary Five Spot in 1963. Monk soon became a major influence on Alexander’s music, which was rooted in the reggae and ska of his native country as well as … Read More “Monty Alexander: Wareika Hill (RastaMonk Vibrations) (MACD)”

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Monty Alexander: Harlem-Kingston Express Vol. 2: The River Rolls On

Bridging reggae and jazz without losing the sound of either is a delicate balance. It generally means maintaining the heavy off-beat accents and syncopated basslines that hew toward ska without reining in the challenging harmonic substitutions of bebop. Pianist Monty Alexander has made a career of this endeavor, and his 13-track Harlem-Kingston Express Vol. 2: … Read More “Monty Alexander: Harlem-Kingston Express Vol. 2: The River Rolls On”

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Monty Alexander: Uplift2 Higher

By the time Monty Alexander brings “When the Saints Go Marching In” to a chord-crashing close, it’s clear he won’t have to audition twice to be “in that number.” Other keyboard candidates may want to rethink things. Like Uplift, its chart-topping predecessor, Uplift2 is predominantly devoted to mood-elevating arrangements, inspired, in this instance, by several … Read More “Monty Alexander: Uplift2 Higher”

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Monty Alexander: Harlem-Kingston Express

Harlem-Kingston Express is Monty Alexander’s second release this year, like its predecessor a live collection that emphasizes the pianist’s breadth. Where the sequel differs is more than hinted at in its title: Alexander is from Jamaica, and for years he has entwined elements of Caribbean music with what he’s learned from such North American icons … Read More “Monty Alexander: Harlem-Kingston Express”

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Monty Alexander: Uplift

Although Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander is the quintessential interpreter of Caribbean roots in a jazz context, he is equally in his element with good ol’ American bop and blues in the vein of Nat Cole and Oscar Peterson. On the aptly titled Uplift, Alexander and company reinvent rhythm at every turn, turning swing into blues, … Read More “Monty Alexander: Uplift”

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