Monty Alexander's Harlem-Kingston Express | SFJAZZ
Over his six-decade career, pianist Monty Alexander has garnered acclaim for bridging American jazz and the music of his native Jamaica. Ranking in the top 5 of Gene Rizzo’s exhaustive book The Fifty Greatest Piano Players of All Time, Alexander began his piano journey at 4 and quickly absorbed the folk music of the Caribbean that surrounded him. Pivotal experiences at concerts by the likes of Eddie Heywood, Nat “King” Cole and Louis Armstrong during their swings through Kingston and the supreme influences of Errol Garner and Oscar Peterson put Alexander on his path to jazz, and by the early 60s he was firmly established in New York with regular gigs at Jilly’s and the legendary Minton’s Playhouse while working with artists ranging from Frank Sinatra to Milt Jackson and Ray Brown. Since then, he has recorded over 40 albums as a leader, each bearing the marks of his Caribbean roots, including a session with iconic reggae rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare as well as a set devoted to the songs of Bob Marley. The pianist’s 2011 GRAMMY-nominated Motéma Records release Harlem-Kingston Express stands as the ultimate expression of Alexander’s unique perspective on jazz, featuring his trio (including SFJAZZ Collective drummer Obed Calvaire) as well as a Jamaican rhythm section, embracing reggae, dub, bebop, and Afro-Cuban approaches.