Monty Alexander

Steaming Hot

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Steaming Hot serves as an appropriate title for the repackaging of two of pianist Monty Alexander's albums from 1985 and 1995, Full Steam Ahead and Steamin'. Both are trio sets, the first with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Frank Gant, the latter with bassist Ira Coleman and drummer Dion Parson, and serve as a complementary pair. These nice, spare settings give Alexander plenty of room to showcase his melodic style of straightforward jazz. He's aided by a set list that draws from familiar jazz standards like Miles Davis' "Freddie Freeloader" and Hammerstein & Kern's "Make Believe," but just as often draws from material outside the canon. Imagine, for example, a mainstream jazz band holding forth on Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" or Bob Marley's "Lively Up Yourself." While these tracks may seem a bit out of left field, they sound -- in the hands of these trios -- like good jazz. These tracks also keep the listener's attention. On Steamin', Alexander also includes two of his own compositions, "Dear Diz" and "Tucker Avenue Stomp." Steaming Hot offers a fine introduction to Alexander's work for Concord during the '80s and '90s, and serves as a fine testament to the durable form of the piano trio.

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