Monty Alexander

Monty Strikes Again

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Not every musician can pull off a program in front of an audience that ranges through a wide variety of jazz styles, but Monty Alexander does so, even within the opener, "On Green Dolphin Street." Starting this familiar standard in a bop mode, he detours into boogie-woogie until guitarist Ernest Ranglin takes over. His lovely improvised introduction to "Emily" gives way to a much slower than typical arrangement, which emphasizes the beauty of Henry Mancini's original conception, though with a few changes incorporated by the leader. Alexander likely lifted a few eyebrows when he began playing Scott Joplin's classic rag "The Entertainer." After one straight-ahead chorus, he segues into a hard bop setting, trading hot licks with Ranglin. "Chameleon," Herbie Hancock's funk masterpiece from the fusion era, is next, but Alexander's quartet eschews any electronic keyboards or special effects, just digging into it with gusto. The leader also contributed two strong originals to the date. Recorded for the German label MPS, this highly recommended LP is long overdue to be reissued on CD.

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