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The Good Life - Monty Alexander Plays the Songs of Tony Bennett

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Album Review

Monty Alexander has always been a fine jazz pianist, but in recent years he has received more popular acclaim for interpreting the reggae music of his native Jamaica. While his reggae efforts are well done, straight-ahead jazz and interpreting standards are really his forte. For The Good Life, Alexander has chosen to riff on tunes from the repertoire of Tony Bennett — not the most popular or well-known, or even written by the singer — but a good cross section of his set list over the decades. The Chicago-based rhythm team of veteran drummer George Fludas and up-and-coming bassist Lorin Cohen (cousin and bandmate of pianist Ryan Cohan) gives Alexander all the supple support and equal dynamism his playing demands. It's safe to say that listeners will enjoy the more refined, easy swinging numbers such as "Smile," the light bossa treatment of "Maybe September," and the tender ballad "Emily." This is what the elegant Alexander does best, playing 'round midnight affirmations, romantic advances, and subtle harmonies. But as the CD hums along, the pianist becomes more assertive — the kind of animation Alexander is always capable of but rarely shows — as on "Just in Time," where he trades phrases with Fludas, displays energy, and digs in. The trio does "Put on a Happy Face" in a loping, crafted manner, seasoned by the years, and presents a doleful blues on "I Wanna Be Around," which is the tune most identified with Bennett. A little Latin spice bumps up the traipsing "That Old Devil Moon," and a horse-trot rhythm courtesy of Fludas inspires "The Good Life." As in the tradition of Chesky Records, this session was recorded with a single 360-degree microphone, done at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in N.Y.C., and the sound is pristine. Turn up the volume a few notches to hear the precious, full, rich, bountiful sound Alexander and his group are putting down. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

The Good Life

Monty is at the height of his playing powers on this beautiful offering. He and his bandmates swing as per usual and treat the Bennett standards with the greatest respect. Buy it now and you'll be a lifelong fan of both, if not already!


Born: June 6, 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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The Good Life - Monty Alexander Plays the Songs of Tony Bennett, Monty Alexander
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