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In Tokyo

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Album Review

Monty Alexander commemorated his first tour of Japan in 1979 with this studio recording in Tokyo, with bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Frank Gant. Although the pianist's interpretation of the standard "Broadway" is definitely in a hard bop groove, his shimmering runs are reminiscent of Oscar Peterson or Art Tatum. "Just in Time," powered by Gant's brushwork and Simpkins' imaginative bassline, finds the leader in more of a swinging mood, playfully inserting brief quotes from "Fascinating Rhythm" and "Down by the Riverside." The brisk interpretation of Oscar Pettiford's "Tricotism" explodes after a quick chorus of its well-known theme, with Alexander exploring the full range of the keyboard. Alexander's shining arrangement of "Never Let Me Go" (a ballad forever associated with the late pianist Bill Evans) is initially accompanied by Simpkins' lush arco bass and Gant's shimmering cymbals, before he transforms it into a spacious bossa nova. His driving take of Ma Rainey's memorable blues "See See Rider" could be used as fuel to ignite a dull party. Three bonus tracks from the same session have been added for this CD reissue, including an imaginative reworking of John Coltrane's "Impressions," an unusually funky "Nature Boy" and a delightful reworking of Sonny Rollins' famous calypso "St. Thomas," punctuated by Simpkins' singing along with his bubbly bass solo. This is easily one of Monty Alexander's best recordings of his career.


Born: 06 June 1944 in Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Monty Alexander long ago combined together the influence of Oscar Peterson with the soul of Gene Harris and Nat "King" Cole to form his own appealing and personable style. Long a bit underrated (due to the shadow of Peterson), Alexander has recorded more than a score of excellent albums. Monty Alexander began piano lessons when he was six and he played professionally in Jamaican clubs while still a teenager; his band, Monty and the Cyclones, was quite popular locally during 1958-1960. He first played...
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In Tokyo, Monty Alexander
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