Friday, April 9, 2010

Monty ALEXANDER - Monty Meets Sly and Robbie 2000

Monty ALEXANDER - Monty Meets Sly and Robbie 2000


Jazz purists may turn up the nose at this jazz-reggae summit meeting, but that's their loss. It's not that they wouldn't have the right to be suspicious -- experiments in jazz-reggae fusion do not have a distinguished history. But the combination of Jamaican-born jazz pianist Monty Alexander and reggae godfathers Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare works beautifully here for a number of reasons: first of all, Alexander is a gifted melodist with an unerring sense of groove (not always a given with jazz players), and second of all, Sly and Robbie emancipated themselves long ago from reggae's rhythmic strictures, so there's lots of variety on this album. The grooves are never less than bone deep: on "Monty's Groove," Shakespeare's minimalist bassline and Dunbar's funky drumming propel Alexander into inspired (if a bit restrained) flights of improvisation, and "People Make the World Go 'Round" is a slow, dark dancehall workout that gives Alexander's piano lots of open space to work with. "Hot Milk," the album's closer, is a touching tribute to the late reggae organist Jackie Mittoo, on which Alexander plays mournful melodica over a modified rocksteady beat. There are times when you might wish Alexander would cut loose and wail a bit more, but this album is a delight from beginning to end.
By Rick Anderson.
For much of his career, the Jamaican-born pianist Monty Alexander has been swinging jazz rhythms and dropping Jamaican "riddims." Monty Alexander Meets Sly and Robbie combines his Nat "King" Cole/Bill Doggett-influenced pianisms with longtime friends Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, whose signature drum machine programming, booming bass lines, and ambient sound effects provided the sonic signature of dancehall music the forerunner of rap and hip-hop. Alexander and this dynamic duo, augmented by keyboardist Handel Tucker, "Jamaicanize" several soul-jazz classics including Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder," Bobby Timmons's "Moanin'," and Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" into a unique worldbeat statement. The CD also features Alexander's own island-breezed compositions, "Monty's Groove," "Do the Kool Step," and "Hot Milk" the lattermost highlighting the leader's plaintive melodic playing. The standout track on the recording, a moving rendition of the Stylistics' hit, "People Make the World Go Round," offers funky and folkloric proof that music from the English-speaking Caribbean has rich possibilities for jazz improvisation.
By Eugene Holley Jr. AMG.
Monty Alexander- (Piano, Melodica);
Jay Davidson- (Saxophone);
Steve Jankowski- (Trumpet);
Handel Tucker- (Keyboards);
Robbie Shakespeare- (Bass);
Sly Dunbar- (Drums, Programming);
Desmond Jones- (Drums).
01. Chameleon 5:05
02. Monty's Groove 5:20
03. Soulful Strut 5:14
04. The In Crowd 5:12
05. Sidewinder 4:57
06. People Make The World Go 'Round 5:08
07. (Do The) Kool Step 4:24
08. Moanin' 5:03
09. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy 4:33
10. Hot Milk 5:49


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