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My America

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Album Review

Over his long recording and performing career, Monty Alexander has displayed an ability to excel with any jazz or related genre. From swing to bop and hard bop, from reggae to mainstream jazz, you name it and Alexander has done it and done it well. On his latest and fourth album for the Telarc label, the veteran pianist takes time to show his appreciation and gratitude to his adopted home, America, through a series of songs in honor of people and images that shaped his attitude toward this country, whether it be cowboy movies he used to see as a youngster in Jamaica or the impression made upon him by a variety of American performers, including Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and others of like diversity. Nor has he forgotten his Caribbean roots with a highly rhythmic version of Al Green's "Love and Happiness." Alexander's "Mack the Knife" is given a sort of gentile honky tonk burnish, while there is a bit of music hall piano in "Battle Hymn of the Republic" before he turns this patriotic song into a rousing swinger with gospel overtones. If this album needed a subtitle, it might be "Some of My Best Friends Are Singers," picking up on the device successfully used by his once-playing partner, Ray Brown. Alexander is joined on four cuts by Freddy Cole, John Pizzarelli, Kevin Mahogany, and Cat. As good as this vocalizing is, it's the infectious, bright playing of Alexander that lifts this album beyond the realm of the ordinary. Recommended.

Biography

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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My America, Monty Alexander
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