Montgomery Bernard "Monty" Alexander (born 6 June 1944) is a Jamaican jazz pianist. His playing has a Caribbean influence and bright swinging feeling, with a strong vocabulary of bebop jazz and blues rooted melodies. He was influenced by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Oscar Peterson, and Frank Sinatra. Alexander also sings and plays the melodica. He is known for his surprising musical twists, bright rhythmic sense, and intense dramatic musical climaxes. Monty's recording career has covered many of the well known American songbook standards, jazz standards, pop hits, and Jamaican songs from his original homeland. Alexander has resided in New York City for many years and performs frequently throughout the world at jazz festivals and clubs.
|Birth name||Montgomery Bernard Alexander|
|Born||6 June 1944|
|Labels||Pacific Jazz, RCA, Verve, MPS, Motéma Music|
|Associated acts||Milt Jackson, Ray Brown|
Alexander was born on 6 June 1944 in Kingston, Jamaica. He discovered the piano when he was four years old and seemed to have a knack for picking melodies out by ear. His mother sent him to classical music lessons at the age of six and he became interested in jazz piano at the age of 14. He began playing in clubs, and on recording sessions by Clue J & His Blues Blasters, subbing 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 covering much of the 1960s early rock and pop dance hits. 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, where he played in various nightclubs. One night Monty was brought to the attention of Frank Sinatra and Frank's friend Jilly Rizzo. They were there to see the act in the next room, a Sinatra imitator. Somebody suggested they also check out the kid playing piano in the front room bar, "He's swinging the room pretty good" they said. Thus, Monty was invited to New York City in 1962 to become the house pianist for Jilly Rizzo's night club and restaurant simply called "Jilly's." In addition to performing with Frank Sinatra there, Alexander also met and became friends with bassist Ray Brown and vibist Milt Jackson. He also became friendly with Miles Davis, both men sharing a love of watching boxing matches.
In Los Angeles, in 1964, Alexander recorded his first album, Alexander the Great, for Pacific Jazz at the age of 20. The album was very energetic and upbeat with the climax tune being "Blues for Jilly".
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.
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 is Montreux Alexander, recorded during the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 1976.
A year later in 1977 Alexander recorded again with Milt Jackson on the LP called Soul Fusion. Jackson used Alexander's trio (with bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, future big-band co-leaders) for the Pablo recorded LP which was later issued on CD through Original Jazz Classics. Much of the material is obscure (including Jackson's three originals), with Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" being the only jazz standard on the album.
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.
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.
Awards and honorsEdit
- Musgrave Medal, Institute of Jamaica, 2000
- Best Live Performance Album, Independent Music Awards, Harlem-Kingston Express, 2012
- Grammy-nominated 2011 CD, Harlem-Kingston Express
- 2014 Soul Train Award-nominated followup, Harlem-Kingston Express, Vol. 2: The River Rolls On, both released on Motéma Records
|1964||Alexander the Great||Pacific Jazz||Trio, with Victor Gaskin (bass), Paul Humphrey (drums)|
|1965||Spunky||Pacific Jazz||Most tracks trio, with Victor Gaskin (bass), Paul Humphrey (drums); some tracks quartet, with Gene Bertoncini (guitar), Bob Cranshaw (bass), Bruno Carr (drums)|
|1967||Zing!||RCA||Some tracks trio, with Bob Cranshaw (bass), Al Foster (drums); some tracks trio, with Victor Gaskin (bass), Roy McCurdy (drums)|
|1969||This is Monty Alexander||Verve||With orchestra arranged and conducted by Johnny Pate|
|1970||Taste of Freedom||MGM||With orchestra arranged and conducted by Johnny Pate|
|1971||Here Comes the Sun||MPS||Quartet, with Eugene Wright (bass), Duffy Jackson (drums), Montego Joe (congas)|
|1971||We've Only Just Begun||MPS||Trio, with Eugene Wright (bass), Bobby Durham (drums); in concert|
|1973||Perception!||MPS||Trio, with Eugene Wright (bass), Bobby Durham (drums)|
|1974||Rass!||MPS||Septet, with Ernest Ranglin (lead guitar), Clarence Wears (guitar), Clifton "Jackie" Jackson (electric bass), Sparrow Martin (drums), Noel Seale (congas), Denzil "Pops" Laing (percussion)|
|1974||Love and Sunshine||MPS||Quartet, with Ernest Ranglin (guitar), Eberhard Weber (bass), Kenny Clare (drums)|
|1974||Unlimited Love||MPS||Quartet, with Ernest Ranglin (guitar), Eberhard Weber (bass), Kenny Clare (drums); in concert; also released as Monty Strikes Again|
|1976||Montreux Alexander||MPS||Trio, with John Clayton (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums); in concert|
|1976||The Way It Is||MPS||Trio, with John Clayton (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums); released 1979|
|1977||Live in Holland||Polydor||Trio, with John Clayton (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums)|
|1977||Cobilimbo||MPS||Sextet, with Vincent Taylor (steel drums), Ernest Ranklin (guitar), Andy Simpkins (bass), Frank Gant (drums), Charles Campell (congas)|
|1977||Estade||MPS||Quartet, with Ernest Ranklin (guitar), Andy Simpkins (bass), Charles Campell (congas)|
|1978||Live at Ronnie Scott's||CBS||Trio, with Steve Rodney (bass), Frank Gant (drums)|
|1978||Jamento||Pablo||Septet, with Vince Charles (steel drums), Ernest Ranglin (guitar), Andy Simpkins (bass), Roger Bethelmy (drums), Duffy Jackson (drums), Larry McDonald (percussion)|
|1979||In Tokyo||Pablo||Trio, with Andy Simpkins (bass), Frank Gant (drums)|
|1979||Just In Time||Live At EJ's||Trio, with Bob Maize (bass), Frank Gant (drums); released 1996|
|1979||So What?||Black & Blue||Solo piano|
|1980||Facets||Concord||Trio, with Ray Brown (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums)|
|1980||Ivory & Steel||Concord||Sextet, with Othello Molineaux and Leo "Boogsie" Sharp (steel drums), Gerald Wiggins [sic] (bass), Frank Gant (drums), Robert Thomas Jr. (percussion)|
|1980||Monty Alexander – Ernest Ranglin||MPS||Duo, with Ernest Ranglin|
|1981||Trio||Concord||Trio, with Herb Ellis (guitar), Ray Brown (bass)|
|1981||Fingering||Atlas||Trio, with Ray Brown (bass), Shelly Manne (drums)|
|1982||Look Up||Atlas||Trio, with Andy Simpkins (bass), Duffy Jackson (drums)|
|1982||Overseas Special||Concord||Trio, with Herb Ellis (guitar), Ray Brown (bass); in concert; released 1984|
|1982||Triple Treat||Concord||Trio, with Herb Ellis (guitar), Ray Brown (bass)|
|1983||The Duke Ellington Song Book||MPS/Verve||Duo, with John Clayton (bass)|
|1984||Reunion in Europe||Concord||Trio, with John Clayton (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums)|
|1985||Caribbean Duet||Harmonic||Duo, with Michel Sardaby (piano)|
|1985||Full Steam Ahead||Concord||Trio, with Ray Brown (bass), Frank Gant (drums)|
|1985||Threesome||Soul Note||Trio, with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass), Grady Tate (drums, vocals)|
|1985||Friday Night||Limetree||Quartet, with Reggie Johnson (bass), Ed Thigpen (drums), Robert Thomas Jr. (percussion); in concert; released 1987|
|1985||Saturday Night||Limetree||Quartet, with Reggie Johnson (bass), Ed Thigpen (drums), Robert Thomas Jr. (percussion); in concert; released 1988|
|1986||Li'l Darlin'||TDK||Trio, with John Clayton (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums); released 1993|
|1986||To Nat, With Love||Zanda||Sextet, with Harry "Sweets" Edison (trumpet), John Collins (guitar), John Clayton (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums), Robert Thomas Jr. (percussion); in concert|
|1987||Triple Treat II||Concord||Most tracks trio, with Herb Ellis (guitar), Ray Brown (bass); some tracks quartet, with John Frigo (violin) added; in concert|
|1987||Triple Treat III||Concord||Most tracks trio, with Herb Ellis (guitar), Ray Brown (bass); some tracks quartet, with John Frigo (violin) added; in concert; released 1989|
|1988||Jamboree||Concord Picante||Septet, with Othello Molineaux and Leo "Boogsie" Sharp (steel drums), Marshall Wood (bass), Bernard Montgomery (electric bass), Marvin "Smitty" Smith (drums), Robert Thomas Jr. (percussion)|
|1990||The River||Concord||Trio, with John Clayton (bass), Ed Thigpen (drums)|
|1991||Live at the Cully Select Jazz Festival||Limetree||Trio, with Lynn Seaton (bass), Duffy Jackson (drums)|
|1994||Monty Alexander at Maybeck||Concord||Solo piano; in concert|
|1994||Steamin'||Concord||Trio, with Ira Coleman (bass), Dion Parson (drums)|
|1995||Many Rivers To Cross||Meldac||With Ernest Ranglin|
|1995||Yard Movement||Island||With Ernest Ranglin|
|1996||To the Ends of the Earth||Concord Picante||Alexander's Ivory & Steel band|
|1996||Echoes of Jilly's||Concord||Trio, with John Patitucci (bass), Troy Davis (drums)|
|1999||Stir It Up: The Music of Bob Marley||Telarc|
|2000||Monty Meets Sly and Robbie||Telarc||With Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare|
|2000||Goin' Yard||Telarc||In concert|
|2003||Impressions in Blue||Telarc||Trio, with Hassan Shakur (bass), Mark Taylor (drums)|
|2004||Rocksteady||Telarc||With Ernest Ranglin|
|2004||Live at the Iridium||Telarc||Most tracks trio, with Hassan Shakur (bass), Mark Taylor (drums); some tracks quartet, with Robert Thomas Jr. (percussion) added; in concert|
|2005||Concrete Jungle: The Music of Bob Marley||Telarc|
|2008||The Good Life: Monty Alexander Plays the Songs of Tony Bennett||Chesky||Trio, with Lorin Cohen (bass), George Fludas (drums)|
|2009||Calypso Blues: The Songs of Nat King Cole||Chesky||Trio, with Lorin Cohen (bass), George Fludas (drums)|
|2007–2010||Uplift ||Jazz Legacy||Most tracks trio, with Hassan Shakur (bass), Herlin Riley (drums); some tracks trio, with Hassan Shakur (bass), Frits Landesbergen (drums); in concert|
|2011||Love Me Tender||Venus||Trio, with Hassan Shakur (bass), Willie Jones III (drums)|
|2011||Harlem-Kingston Express||Motéma||In concert|
|2013||Uplift 2||Jazz Legacy||Most tracks trio, with John Clayton (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums); some tracks trio, with Hassan Shakur (bass), Frits Landesbergen (drums); in concert|
|1988–2013||Harlem-Kingston Express, Vol. 2: The River Rolls On||Motéma|
|2017||Road Dog||MACD||This is Monty Alexander's own label|
|2019||Wareika Hill: Rasta-Monk Vibrations||MACD|
|1998||The Concord Jazz Heritage Series||Concord|
|2000||Island Grooves||Concord||Compilation of Jamboree + Ivory & Steel|
|2002||Triple Scoop||Concord||Compilation of Triple Treat + Triple Treat II + Triple Treat III|
|2003||Straight Ahead||Concord||Compilation of Overseas Special + Trio|
|2004||Steaming Hot||Concord||Compilation of Full Steam Ahead + Steamin'|
|2005||Jazz Calypso: Monty Alexander Caribbean Best||JVC|
|2007||Alexander The Great: Monty Swings On MPS||MPS /Universal||4-CD set; compilation of 'Here Comes The Sun', 'We've Only Just Begun', 'Perception!', 'Love And Sunshine', 'Unlimited Love', 'The Way It Is'|
With Ernest Ranglin
- Ranglypso (MPS, 1974)
- Below the Bassline (Island, 1996)
- Rocksteady (Telarc, 2004)
- Order of Distinction (Milk River Music, 2009)
With Milt Jackson
- That's the Way It Is (Impulse!, 1969)
- Just the Way It Had to Be (Impulse!, 1969)
- Soul Fusion (Pablo, 1977)
- Montreux '77 (Pablo, 1977)
- A London Bridge (Pablo, 1982)
- Mostly Duke (Pablo, 1982)
- Memories of Thelonious Sphere Monk (Pablo, 1982)
With Ray Brown
- Live at the Concord Jazz Festival (Concord, 1979)
- Summerwind (Jeton, 1981) 2LP
- A Ray Brown 3 (Concord, 1983)
- Ray Brown, Monty Alexander, & Russell Malone (Telarc, 2002)
- Walk On (Telarc, 2003)
With Tony Bennett
- A Swingin' Christmas (Featuring The Count Basie Big Band) (Columbia, 2008)
- 1969 The Original Jam Sessions 1969, Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby
- 1971 Smackwater Jack, Quincy Jones
- 1977 Dizzy Gillespie Montreux Jam, Dizzy Gillespie
- 1979 Somewhere in My Lifetime, Phyllis Hyman
- 1980 Royal Blue, Marshal Royal
- 1980 Never Make Your Move Too Soon, Ernestine Anderson
- 1982 Goal, Dieter Goal
- 1986 Go for Whatcha' Know, Jimmy Smith
- 1987 Spontaneous Combustion, Barney Kessel
- 1989 Chicken Scratch, Lee "Scratch" Perry
- 1990 Snowy Morning Blues, Howard Alden
- 1991 Unforgettable: With Love, Natalie Cole
- 1994 That's Funky, Benny Golson
- 1994 Hi-Bop Ska!, The Skatalites
- 1996 Landmarks, Clifton Anderson
- 1996 Manhattan Moods, Mary Stallings
- 1996 Verve Jazz Masters #59, Toots Thielemans
- 2000 One on One, Clark Terry
- 2000 That's Funky, Benny Golson
- 2001 Universal Lovesongs, Caterina Zapponi
- 2002 Kristian Jørgensen Meets Monty Alexander, Kristian Jørgensen
- 2003 Tribute to Charlie Parker, Frank Morgan
- 2004 With All My Heart, Harvey Mason
- 2005 In the Rhythm, Suzanne Couch
- 2006 Chuck Redd Remembers Barney Kessel: Happy All the Time, Chuck Redd
- 2010 Back in the Saddle Again, Bucky Pizzarelli
- 2010 You Are There: Duets, Hilary Kole
- 2011 Kaiso, Etienne Charles
- 2011 Man With the Hat, Grace Kelly/Phil Woods
- Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke, Jean-Luc Ponty – Live at Montreux (1994)
- New Morning – The Paris Concert (2008)
- Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 7. ISBN 0-141-00646-3.
- Rinzler, Paul; Kernfeld, Barry (2002). "Alexander, Monty". In Barry Kernfeld (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, vol. 1 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 28. ISBN 1-56159-284-6.
- 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.
- "Musgrave Awardees". Institute of Jamaica. Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
- "11th Annual Independent Music Awards Winners Announced!" Independent Music Awards, 2 May 2012. Retrieved on 4 September 2013.
- Monty Alexander UPLIFT 2. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
- "Monty Alexander | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Monty Alexander.|
- Official website
- Images of Monty Alexander, digitized photographs from the James Arkatov Collection at UCLA Library Special Collections.
- New England Jazz History Database Audio Interviews