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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby


Monty Alexander

Live at the Iridium




  1. The Work Song
  2. Slappin’
  3. My Mother’s Eyes
  4. Happylypso/Funji Mama
  5. The River
  6. Runnin’ Away
  7. Little Darlin’
  8. Mount Zanda
  9. That’s the Way it is.

Monty Alexander – Piano

Hassan Shakur – Bass

Mark Taylor – Drums

Robert Thomas Jnr. – Hand Drums & Drums

This album was recorded live at the Iridium Jazz Club in NYC, in May of last year. Born in Jamaica Monty Alexander is now right at the forefront of jazz piano players world wide, a visit to any of Monty’s live performances is guaranteed to lift the soul, his playing is the essence of jazz. He has absorbed all that has gone before and evolved a style that is uniquely his own. British drummer Mark Taylor has joined Martin Drew of Oscar Peterson Trio fame in showing the world that the UK can now produce world class jazz percussionists.

The jazz trio has been a favourite since the days when Nat ‘King’Cole was known mainly as a jazz pianist, long before his conversion to vocal superstar and Monty’s trio is a worthy successor to that earlier super group.

Nat Adderley’s ‘The Work Song’ gets the album off to a good start with Monty and bassist Hassan Shakur dueting on the theme statement. The playing is in fact pure joy as Monty and the trio take us through some fine improvisations on this theme, it is obvious that this man has listened to Peterson, Garner, Shearing and all those great piano stylists that have gone before. There is no intention to copy however and what you hear is pure Monty Alexander, very well supported by his world class bassist and drummers.

Slappin’ is an Alexander original, a ‘down home’ original blues composition which highlights the superb drumming of Mark Taylor. The whole track is a superb demonstration of what a great jazz vehicle the 12 bar blues is.

Monty is known to be a superb ballad player and My Mother’s Eyes shows us just how good he is, it is an old song, c1929, but it is nice to hear it again played so well.

Track 4 starts with percussionist Robert Thomas Jnr. Leading the way into this calypso which was written by trumpeter Blue Mitchell. It gives Monty the opportunity to bring his Caribbean influences into play, which adds yet another dimension to the performance. (How I wish I’d been at the Iridium when this was recorded!)

The River is another of Monty’s own compositions; the title is apparently related to his faith in God. A quiet thoughtful piece making a contrast with the previous track. Runnin’ Away was composed Sylvester Stewart, again it provides an interesting contrast to that which has gone before, it has superb passage of solo piano allowing Monty to continue to demonstrate his superb technique.

Little Darlin’, Neal Hefti’s composition, has been providing a great jazz compositions for groups since it’s original performance by the Basie Band, the first soloist on this track is Hassan Shakur on bass he has a great sound and a terrific ear.

The programme is completed by two more of Monty’s compositions, the Latin Mount Zanda that has the calypso sound and That’s the Way It Is which has a blues feel.

Whichever track you choose, you cannot fail to notice that Monty builds the excitement throughout, which probably accounts for his huge appeal to jazz audiences.

This is a record for every serious collector, not to be missed.

Don Mather


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