Grammy Nominee Monty Alexander Brings 50 Year Career Celebration To New York With 14-Day Musical Festival
Grammy Award nominee and jazz great, the scintillating Monty Alexander, is set to take one of New York’s premier jazz venues by storm later this month as he marks the 50th year of his musical career with a multiple genre celebration.
The Jamaican-born Commander of Distinction will marry his Caribbean musical roots with his American jazz influence and expertise as he plays the renowned Blue Note Jazz Club for two weeks – from February 20th to March 4th.
The musician will take fans back on a 50-year musical journey – from his homeland of Jamaica where he first learnt to play the piano as a child and later fell in love with the island’s music of reggae and ska as well as the music of neighboring Trinidad and Tobago, to his American experience after moving to the U.S. as an immigrant in 1961 at the age of 17.
That journey for Alexander, who says he plays music for the joy of playing, will include reflections from the famed New York City nightclub, Jilly’s, that Frank Sinatra called his favorite bistro. Jilly’s was ‘the place‘ where many showbiz greats performed and was frequented by jazz greats like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Milt “Bags” Jackson. The two-week celebration will also showcase an insight into the man who assisted Natalie Cole in her tribute album to her father, Nat “King” Cole in 1991, on the album, ‘Unforgettable.‘ That album won seven Grammy awards. Fans will also be able to see the side of Alexander that featured during his performances with George Gershwin‘s “Rhapsody in Blue,” under the direction of Bobby McFerrin at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, and his recording of the piano track for the film score of Clint Eastwood’s ‘Bird,’ a movie about the life of jazz titan Charlie Parker.
‘The Monty Alexander Festival at the Blue Note,’ which is being dubbed, “The Full Monty,” will feature the top jazz musician along with several specially invited guest artists.
The first week of the Monty Alexander “One Love Train Ride,” will see performances from Jamaican guitar sensation Ernest Ranglin; Trinidad’s Othello Molineaux, as well as American jazz greats, including Freddie Cole, Nat King Cole’s youngest brother who just turned eighty and whose live performance is a rare treasure; Tony Award-winning Jazz diva Dee Dee Bridgewater; jazz vocalist, bass and drum duo John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton; jazz guitar genius Pat Martino; Jennifer Hatrswick, guitarist Russell Malone; bassist Christian McBride and organist, Dr. Lonnie Smith.
During week two, Alexander will take the audience as the conductor of the ‘Harlem Kingston Express Train’ to the Caribbean, as he celebrates his heritage and appreciation of both Jamaica, the land of his birth and the steel pan music of the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Fans will be able to experience a festival of genres that will travel from the early years of mento, ska, rock steady to reggae and pan music. The special invited guest performers are a Who’s Who of Caribbean artists and include vocalists – Grammy-winning singer, Shaggy; Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare, Taurus Riley, Dean Fraser and Diana King as well as Trinidad and Tobago singer, Designer.
Alexander has been dubbed “a masterly pianist who delights audiences everywhere” by the London Evening Standard since the release of his two collections – ‘Uplift,‘ a trio album on JLP Records, and ‘Harlem-Kingston Express‘ on Motema Music – last year. Between ‘Uplift’ and ‘Harlem-Kingston Express,’ Monty Alexander has officially dominated the US Radio Charts with three number 1 spots, all in the summer of 2011. ‘Harlem-Kingston Express’ has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Reggae Album category at the Feb. 12th event.