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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby




Crotchet

Monty Alexander Trio

Impressions in Blue

TELARC CD-83578

 

  1. Blue Rhapsody
  2. En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor
  3. Come Sunday / David Danced
  4. Creole Love Call
  5. Accompong
  6. Pointe-A- Pitre
  7. Eleuthra
  8. Jumpin’ at Capitol
  9. It’s Only a Paper Moon
  10. Body and Soul
  11. I’m an Old Cowhand

Monty Alexander – piano
Hassan Shakur – bass
Mark Taylor – drums

Recorded in New York in December 2002

Monty Alexander is one of the very top flight of pianists in the jazz world, having reached this position by paying his dues working with many of the ‘Greats of jazz’ and probably most importantly, with the Ray Brown trio.

His trio on this record is superb, both Hassan Shakur on bass and Mark Taylor on drums, knit together with the leader, to create wonderful improvisations whatever the theme. Just how far the experience of playing with Ray Brown influenced Monty’s choice of sidemen I don’t know, but this is one of the most notable trios I have ever heard. The balance between the instruments is perfect, as is the timing of every note played. I have admired Monty’s playing for many years, but this has to be his definitive album.

Tracks one and two come from George Gershwin and Rodrigo, but both are moulded into pure Alexander by the end of the performance: but without ever getting so far from the original as to make them unrecognisable. Similarly with Duke Ellington’s compositions on tracks 3 and 4.

Monty comes originally from Jamaica and tracks 5, 6 and 7 are Alexander originals dedicated to Jamaica, Guadeloupe and the Bahamas respectively. Having had the fortune to visit each of these marvellous islands, I can feel where he is coming from, each is an attractive composition and the trio plays the improvisations, which follow, with great feeling.

Tracks 8, 9, and 10 have the benefit of the addition of John Pizzarelli on guitar, and as they are dedicated to the playing Nat ‘King’ Cole, who could be better.

Monty says that Nat was one of his earliest influences, I like his description of Nat as, "The hottest and coolest piano player all at one time". The final of these tracks Body & Soul is a classic rendition of one of the greatest jazz standards of all time, a tune that it is impossible to exhaust in terms of harmonic possibilities.

The closing track ‘Way Out West’ has been a favourite of many ‘jazzers’ over the

years, particularly Sonny Rollins, who played it for the whole of the first half on one of his appearances I attended. Hassan Shakur and MarkTaylor are both featured to good effect on this track.

Listening to this CD was 62 minutes and 39 seconds of pure enjoyment and I intend to listen to it many times more, without being at a computer keyboard!

Don Mather

 



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