Monty Alexander's Ivory and Steel combines soulful, hard-bopping jazz with Jamaican calypsos and West Indian grooves to forge a highly original two-CD set titled Island Grooves. Disc one, originally released as Ivory & Steel in 1980, contains nine songs including two written by the pianist. The classic Nat Adderley standard "Work Song" gets the full benefit of the ivories and the steel with Alexander improvising the melody in sync with the steel pans of Othello Molineaux as Gerald Wiggins, Robert Thomas Jr., and Frank Gant provide excellent rhythmic timing on bass, percussion, and drums. John Coltrane's "Impressions" and Miles Davis' "So What" each receive excellent reinterpretations through Alexander's skillful synchronicity of ivory and steel. Disc two, titled Jamboree, contains ten songs. Monty Alexander achieves his objective by creating a mood that is basically West Indian and by providing a musical context that leaves lots of room for the musicians to solo. With Othello Molineaux and Len "Boogsie" Sharpe on steel drums, Marshall Wood on bass, Bernard Montgomery on electric bass, Robert Thomas Jr. on hand drums, and Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums, Alexander surpasses his previous 1980 achievement by including five original compositions. "Think Twice," "Look Up," "Accompong," "You Can See," and "Reggae Later" all showcase the pianist igniting some great musical flames under the steel pans. This ensemble is especially pleasing because of the interpretations they have drawn together from socially significant events, Jamaican folklore, the music of Bob Marley, and the piano stylings and visions of Monty Alexander.
AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2