Jazz Great Marks Half-Century In Music With Kick-Off Show
It’s been half a century already since Jamaican-born jazz great, Monty Alexander, has been performing professionally.
The piano virtuoso will kick-off his 50th anniversary celebration next month with a special five-night performance at the Birdland Jazz Club – 315 West 44th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues in New York City.
Alexander, declared one of the greatest jazz piano players of all time in Hal Leonard’s 2005 book, and with a whopping 60 albums under his belt, is set to thrill fans from Tuesday April 5th to Saturday April 9th with two nightly shows at 8:30 p.m. and 11 p.m., respectively.
“This engagement is the first in a series of concerts in celebration of my 50th year in music,” commented Alexander. “It gives me a special opportunity to look back musically to 1961 and my first jobs in Kingston, Jamaica, with my first group, Monty and the Cyclones and the recordings I did for Coxsone Dodd and Duke Reed. I also look forward to reflecting musically on adventures I had through the years with, among others, Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson, Quincy Jones, Ray Brown and other legends of Jazz.”
The performance comes on the heels of the release of ‘Uplift,’ a new album from Alexander and Jazz Legacy Productions that includes such pieces as “Come Fly With Me,” “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Body and Soul” and “Home.”
Over his stellar career, the Kingston-born musician has performed with international stars including Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Ernest Ranglin, Barbara Hendricks, Bill Cosby, Bobby McFerrin, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare.
Infact, it was Sinatra and his best friend Jilly Rizzo who hired Alexander after he moved to the United States in 1961 at the age of seventeen. And it was at Jilly’s famed New York City nightclub that this Jamaican teen caught the ears of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Milt “Bags” Jackson.
It was Bags who introduced him to the great bassist Ray Brown, and the rest as they say, is history, including Alexander’s 1976 Montreux (Switzerland) Jazz Festival performance with drummer Jeff Hamilton and bassist John Clayton, which has become one of the most celebrated live recordings in contemporary jazz.
His extraordinary contribution to jazz globally led tothe Jamaican government awarding Alexander the title of Commander in the Order of Distinction for outstanding services to Jamaica as a worldwide music ambassador in 2000.