Monty Alexander / Ray Brown / Herb Ellis

Overseas Special

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While the 1981 album Trio introduced the teaming of pianist Monty Alexander with Oscar Peterson Trio alumni Ray Brown and Herb Ellis as an intriguing partnership, this live date, recorded at Tokyo's Satin Doll Club, really shows the group meshing well. This is not the Peterson Trio, not only because Peterson isn't present and the younger, brasher Alexander is, but also because it is a teaming of equals. Individual members may dominate particular tunes -- Ellis is all over the Johnny Mandel ballad "A Time for Love," for instance -- but things are usually balanced equally, such as on "Orange in Pain," an Ellis original in which Brown steps up first, only to be followed by the guitarist and then the pianist (who tosses in a quote from "Take the 'A' Train," perhaps acknowledging the inspiration for the club's name). "F.S.R." (or "For Sonny Rollins"), containing a hint of Rollins' "Doxy," is another number in which the solos are exchanged to good effect, as the musicians, listening closely to each other, pick up each other's ideas. If there's anyone who's restraining himself at least slightly, it's Alexander (whose name is listed upfront probably only due to alphabetic order), but he has his moments, and he supports his partners well.

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