There are few things much tastier in life than a new Monty Alexander CD. The Jamaican jazz pianist may not be a bold innovator, but he always plays with a terrific sense of rhythm (and why not, he IS Jamaican), taste, grace, style, and melodicism.
His reggae-based record from ’90, Monty Meets Sly and Robbie, is one of my favorite jazz AND reggae albums of the last five years. I love the way he tackles themes and filters the best of that theme through his own sensibility, fearlessly.
Now on Impression in Blue, his trio (Alexander – piano, J.J. Wiggins/now Hassan Shakur – bass, Mark Taylor – drums) has taken on the theme of “blue”: not just the blues, but the “Blue Rhapsody” of Gershwin, the Sketches of Spain blue of Miles Davis, the elegant blue of Duke Ellington, the janty cool blue of the King Cole Trio (with John Pizzarelli sitting in guitar for “Body and Soul”), and a tribute to the great Sonny Rollins with “I’m An Old Cowhand.” In addition Alexander’s own island blue manifests itself in evocations of Jamaica, Guadeloupe, and the Bahamas.
Even if you think you don’t like jazz, you will respond to the cool blue grooving joy of Monty Alexander – trust me.