Monty Alexander "Looking Back" - Will's New York Nite Life

Monty Alexander "Looking Back"

Monty Alexander "Looking Back"

Jazz Standard

116 E. 27th, (212) 576-2232

Through Saturday (February 4)

At 72, the Kingston-born Montgomery “Monty” Alexander is among the most diverse of contemporary jazz pianists. He’s equally well known for his skills at interpreting the Great American Songbook (he was Sinatra’s personal choice as the entertainment in Jilly’s bar 50 years ago), as well a master bebopper (who apprenticed with all the great legends of modern jazz), and the man who crafted the most exuberant mashup of Jamaican music (calypso, mento and reggae) with North American jazz. This week-long run at the Jazz Standard encompasses three different ensembles, including a set assembled in honor of his mentors Milt Jackson and Ray Brown, featuring the redoubtable Warren Wolf and Hassan Shakur in those roles on vibraphone and bass. On Wednesday night, the group gave out with a solidly entertaining set of 1960s soul jazz classics, hitting all the right notes from Monk (“In Walked Bud”) to Duke (“Things Ain’t What They Used to Be,” which climaxed with a detour through Count Basie’s “Splanky”); as an added bonus, the lineup tonight (Thursday February 2) includes an all-star horn section as well. For the concluding act (on Friday February 3 and Saturday February 4), Mr. Alexander presents his Grammy-nominated “Harlem-Kingston Express,” a nine-member ensemble that illustrates how the music of Bob Marley and Harry Belafonte is relevant to that of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, in a swinging and tuneful way. When daylight come, you won’t wanna go home.

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Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

Author: Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL & VANITY FAIR, and reviews current shows for THE OBSERVER and THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of eight books including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, October 2017)