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Monty Alexander / Press

"What were the highlights of the summer? Here's a broad look at my five favorite arts encounters of the season... 1. Monty Alexander: Harlem-Kingston Express Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola Monty Alexander's blend of jazz and reggae made for an outrageously good time. When Mr. Alexander—the Jamaican-born pianist with a cheerful, chatty style—surrounded himself with a Caribbean quartet to the right and a jazz trio to the left, the result was fresh, lilting interpretations of Bob Marley's greatest hits, as well asTh Mr. Alexander's original compositions, like the unmatchable "Love Notes."

"Monty Alexander ...One World Of Music"

Ted Panken - Downbeat

“Jamaica is known for the undulating sounds of reggae, but it also contributed mightily to the jazz continuum. Dizzy Reese, Ernest Ranglin, and Harry Beckett are from Jamaica, but perhaps the island’s best-known jazz export is Monty Alexander, a pianist that’s been enthralling jazz fans for decades. Alexander’s 2011 album Uplift topped the JazzWeek chart twice that year—and when JazzWeek charted the most-played CDs of the year, Uplift was #5. Between that CD and Harlem-Kingston Express Live, Alexander has officially dominated the US Radio Charts with three # 1 spots, all in the summer of 2011. Harlem-Kingston Express (Motema, also 2011) was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Reggae Album category...Monty Alexander’s distinctive sound emanates from two sources—firstly, he’s infused the inspiration of iconic pianists...Secondly, and perhaps most crucially, Alexander indubitably loves what he is doing and he communicates that to listeners in an engaging, infectious mann”

“Musical marriages can be difficult. Monty Alexander, however, has the chops and the spirit needed to unite seemingly disparate genres. The Jamaican pianist loves the jazz of Harlem just as much as he loves the reggae of Kingston, his hometown. The nature of his latest musical merging is made evident by its title: Harlem-Kingston Express: Live! Most of this concert disc was recorded in June 2010 at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York, where Alexander performed in an octet that featured reggae veterans and a traditional jazz rhythm section.... This album, which was also recorded at concerts in Jamaica, Germany, France and Holland, might make you want to grab your passport and follow Commander ’Zander and his cohorts around the globe...”

“...What Alexander has done on “Harlem-Kingston Express: Live” is nothing less than uniting two distinctive but hard to meld genres into a cohesive, powerful whole. The balancing act between jazz and reggae was made easier with his two tremendous bands, each representing a facet of the artist’s musical make-up..He brought with him two sets of bands, his “Harlem” band, featuring a traditional jazz rhythm section and his “Kingston” band, featuring a reggae rhythm section. ... At the center of it all is Alexander on the piano, swinging between jazz and reggae, and then meeting both in between, whether it’s straight ahead in a jazz quartet, a reggae quintet, or a full-on, nine-piece big band fusion... 'If I want to do this music and [be free to] pick from the whole palette - everything from my own piece to Ellington, to Marley - then I need to bring two rhythm sections together,'" explained Alexander... Because I feel American and I feel Jamaican,.. It's like,my left hand an”

“Those who know jazz pianists know that Monty Alexander is one of the best around. In his teens in his native Jamaica, Alexander soaked up the sounds of Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole. He went on to play with the musicians who eventually became Bob Marley's band, flew his fingers across the keys for Frank Sinatra, has recorded more than 60 albums, and earned a bit of fame outside the jazz world when a segment from his playful spin on Al Green's "Love and Happiness" was sampled by rapper Apache in "Gangsta Bitch." In all his music, the 67-year-old Alexander's right-hand lines ring out with the power of a great vocalist, while his percussive left hand builds a strong foundation. When he improvises, he creates marvelously unexpected swirls of notes and cascades of occasionally dissonant chords. That superb jazz sensibility blends with Alexander's reggae heritage on Harlem-Kingston Express: Live...Just as a heathen can sometimes come to the Lord, so jazz and reggae can find common grou”

“This is World Jazz at its absolute finest. The celebrated Jamaican-American pianist is probably the only musician on the planet who is equally qualified to extend the legacies of Erroll Garner, Bob Marley and Frank Sinatra. His eight piece ensemble, Harlem-Kingston Express, was nominated for a Grammy for last year's "Live at Dizzy's"—in the reggae category, no less. The group is essentially an American jazz trio plus a full Jamaican rhythm section, which between them switches easily between 4/4 bebop or blues and what he calls Island "riddims"—sometimes playing one style, as in Johnny Mandel's "A Time for Love," sometimes the other, as in Marley's "No Woman No Cry." Often as not, it's both at the same time, with both halves of the rhythmic equation merging into a cohesive—and highly entertaining—whole. No matter what continent he's referencing, the eternally youthful Mr. Alexander is, at age 68, an international treasure.”