Monty Alexander at Ronnie Scotts Jazz venue, London
|Birth name||Montgomery Bernard Alexander|
6 June 1944 |
Monty Alexander (born Montgomery Bernard Alexander on 6 June 1944 in Kingston, Jamaica) is a jazz pianist, who also sings and plays the melodica. His playing has a Caribbean influence and bright swinging feeling, with a strong vocabulary of bebop and soulful blues melodies. He was influenced by Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, Les McCann, Ahmad Jamal, and Wynton Kelly. Alexander is known for his surprise musical twists and the ability to build dramatic suspense in his playing.
Alexander discovered the piano when he was four years old, took classical music lessons at the age of six and became interested in jazz piano at the age of 14, and began playing in clubs, and on recording sessions by Clue J & His Blues Blasters, deputising for Aubrey Adams, whom he describes as his hero, when he was unable to play. Two years later, he directed a dance orchestra (Monty and the Cyclones) and played in the local clubs. Performances at the Carib Theater in Jamaica by Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole left a strong impression on the young pianist.
Alexander and his family moved to Miami, Florida, in 1961. He went to New York City in 1962, where he started to play at Jilly Rizzo's jazz club Jilly's. In addition to performing with Frank Sinatra there, Alexander also met and became friends with bassist Ray Brown and vibist Milt Jackson. In California, in 1964, Alexander recorded his first album, Alexander the Great, for Pacific Jazz at the age of 20.
Alexander recorded with Milt Jackson in 1969, with Ernest Ranglin in 1974 and in Europe the same year with Ed Thigpen. He toured regularly in Europe and recorded there, mostly with his classic trio for MPS Records. He also toured around 1976 with the steelpan player Othello Molineaux. Alexander has also played with several singers such as Ernestine Anderson, Mary Stallings and other important leaders (Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, Jimmy Griffin and Frank Morgan). In his successive trios, he has played frequently with musicians associated with Oscar Peterson: Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, Mads Vinding, Ed Thigpen and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen.
In the mid-1970s he formed a group consisting of John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums, creating a stir on the jazz-scene in Europe. Their most famous collaboration (and arguably Alexander's finest album) is Montreux Alexander, recorded during the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 1976.
Alexander formed a reggae band in the 1990s, featuring all Jamaican musicians. He has released several reggae albums, including Yard Movement (1996), Stir It Up (1999, a collection of Bob Marley songs), Monty Meets Sly & Robbie (2000), and Goin' Yard (2001). He collaborated again with Ranglin in 2004 on the album Rocksteady.
- Monty Alexander (1965)
- Spunky (1965, Pacific Jazz)
- Alexander the Great (Pacific Jazz, 1965)
- Zing (1967, RCA)
- This Is Monty Alexander (1969, Verve)
- Taste of Freedom (1970)
- Here Comes the Sun (1971, MPS)
- We've Only Just Begun (1973, MPS)
- Perception (1974, MPS)
- Rass! with Ernest Ranglin (1974, MPS)
- Love & Sunshine (1974, MPS)
- Unlimited Love (1975, MPS)
- Montreux Alexander (1976, MPS)
- Cobilimbo with Ernest Ranglin (1977, MPS)
- Estade (1978, MPS)
- Jamento (1978, Fantasy)
- So What? (1979, The Black & Blue Sessions)
- The Way It Is (1979 – recorded 1976, MPS)
- Summerwind (1980, Jeton/Polygram)
- Monty Alexander – Ernest Ranglin (1981, MPS)
- Fingering (1981, Atlas)
- Look Up (1982)
- Duke Ellington Songbook (1983, MPS)
- Reunion in Europe (1984, Concord Jazz)
- Full Steam Ahead (1985, Concord Jazz)
- Friday Night (1987), Limetree Records
- Triple Treat II (1987, Concord Jazz)
- Ivory & Steel (1988)
- Triple Treat III (1989, Concord Jazz)
- Saturday Night (1999, Timeless)
- The River (1990, Concord Jazz)
- Live in Holland (1992, Emarcy)
- Carbbean Circle (1993, Chesky)
- Live at Maybeck (1994, Concord Jazz)
- Steamin' (1995, Concord Jazz)
- Yard Movement (1995, Island Records)
- Maybeck Recital Hall Series, Vol. 40 (1995, Concord)
- To Nat with Love (1995, Mastermix)
- Ivory and Steal (1996, Concord Picante)
- Facets (1996, Concord) – with Ray Brown & Jeff Hamilton
- Overseas Special (1996, Concord) – with Ray Brown and Herb Ellis
- Echoes of Jilly's (1997, Concord)
- Reunion in Europe (1997, Concord) – with John Clayton & Jeff Hamilton
- The Concord Jazz Heritage Series (1998, Concord Jazz)
- Stir It Up – The Music of Bob Marley (1999, Telarc)
- Threesome (1999, Soul Note) – with Grady Tate & Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen
- Ballad Essentials (2000, Concord Jazz)
- Island Grooves (2000, Concord Jazz)
- Monty Meets Sly & Robbie (2000, Telarc)
- Triple Treat (2001, Concord Jazz)
- Goin' Yard (2001, Telarc)
- Many Rivers to Cross (2001, Meldac)
- Caribbean Duet (2001, Sound Hills) – with Michel Sardaby
- My America (2002, Telarc)
- Triple Scoop (2002, Concord Jazz) – with Ray Brown and Herb Ellis
- Rhapsody in Blue (Telarc)
- Jamboree (2003, Concord)
- Li'l Darlin (2003, Absord Japan)
- Straight Ahead (2003, Concord) – with Ray Brown and Herb Ellis
- Steaming Hot (2004, Concord Records)
- Zing (2004, BMG)
- In Tokyo (2004, Fantasy Records)
- Rocksteady (2004, Telarc) – with Ernest Ranglin
- Live at the Iridium (2005, Telarc)
- Jazz Calypso (2005, JVC)
- Concrete Jungle: The Songs of Bob Marley (2006, Telarc)
- The Way It Is (2006)
- Impressions in Blue (2008, Telarc)
- The Good Life: Monty Alexander Plays the Songs of Tony Bennett (2008, Chesky)
- Solo (2008, Jeton)
- Taste of Freedom (2008, Universal Japan)
- Calypso Blues: The Songs of Nat King Cole (2009, Chesky)
- Uplift (2011, Jazz Legacy Productions)
- Harlem – Kingston Express Live! (2011, Motéma Music)
- Uplift 2 (2013, Jazz Legacy Productions)
- Harlem – Kingston Express, Vol 2: River Rolls On(2014)
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With Dizzy Gillespie
- Dizzy Gillespie Jam (Pablo, 1977)
With Milt Jackson
- That's the Way It Is (Impulse!, 1969)
- Just the Way It Had to Be (Impulse!, 1969)
- A London Bridge (Pablo, 1982)
With Ernest Ranglin
- Ranglypso (MPS, 1974)
- Below the Bassline (Universal, 1996)
- Rocksteady (2004)
- 2000: Gold Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica
- 2012: Independent Music Awards Harlem Kingston Express Live! – Best Live Performance Album
- New Morning – The Paris Concert (2008) DVD
- "Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke, Jean-Luc Ponty – Live at Montreux" (1994) (as special guest)
- Rinzler, Paul; Kernfeld, Barry (2002). "Alexander, Monty". In Barry Kernfeld. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, vol. 1 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 28. ISBN 1-56159-284-6.
- Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encycolpedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 7. ISBN 0-141-00646-3.
- Moskowitz, David V. (2006), Caribbean Popular Music: an Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, and Dancehall, Greenwood Press, ISBN 0-313-33158-8, pp. 8–9.
- Barrow, Steve & Dalton, Peter (2004), The Rough Guide to Reggae, 3rd edn, Rough Guides, ISBN 1-84353-329-4, pp. 24, 49.
- Nicholson, Stuart (1990), Jazz: The Modern Resurgence, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-0671710125, p. 89.
- Monty Alexander, Nova Concerts International, 4 February 2011.
- Monty Alexander UPLIFT 2. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
- "Musgrave Awardees". Institute of Jamaica. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
- "11th Annual Independent Music Awards Winners Announced!" Independent Music Awards, 2 May 2012. Retrieved on 4 September 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Monty Alexander.|
- Jazz Great Marks Half-Century In Music
- Interview with Monty Alexander
- The Official Monty Alexander Website
- Jazz Police review of "Concrete Jungle" by Monty Alexander
- Images of Monty Alexander, digitised photographs from the James Arkatov Collection held at UCLA Library Special Collections.
- New England Jazz History Database Audio Interviews