Monty Alexander, piano
Hassan Shakur, acoustic bass
Obed Calvaire, drums
Andy Bassford, guitar
Joshua Thomas, electric bass
Karl Wright, percussion/drums
Presented in partnership with Butler School of Music and KUTX’s Sunday Morning Jazz with Jay Trachtenberg
In a career spanning over five decades, pianist Monty Alexander has built a reputation for exploring and bridging the worlds of American jazz, popular song, and the music of his native Jamaica, finding in each a sincere spirit of musical expression. He has performed and recorded with a wide array of distinguished artists such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, and Quincy Jones, and as a leader, Monty has recorded over 70 albums.
Harlem-Kingston Express is a musical depiction of Alexander's journey, from the sounds and rhythms of his native Kingston, Jamaica, to the classic jazz tradition of New York's Harlem—an exciting and uplifting interweaving between his heritage and his adopted home of America.
Monty Alexander presented his refined concept of groove with the recent Harlem Kingston Express project, blending a jazz trio and a steaming reggae unit, weaving back and forth between the idioms with orchestral finesse.
– Downbeat Magazine
- The project’s first album, Harlem Kingston Express: LIVE! was nominated for Best Reggae Album at the GRAMMY awards and won the Independent Music Award for Best Album - Live Performance.
- Alexander started the Harlem Kingston Express project to merge his love of jazz and Jamaican music. He describes it saying, “It fulfills me, because it’s my own life experience. It’s like Barack Obama music. We are all cut from the same cloth.”
- In live performance with Harlem Kingston Express, Alexander spontaneously orchestrates, switching from straight-ahead jazz style to two-worlds-meet style.
- In August 2000, the Jamaican government designated Alexander Commander in the Order of Distinction for outstanding services to Jamaica as a worldwide music ambassador.
- At 10, he saw Nat “King” Cole play at Kingston’s Carib Theater, the same venue where, at 13, he heard a concert featuring Louis Armstrong.
- In Hal Leonard’s 2005 book The Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players of All Time, Alexander was listed among the top five jazz pianists of all time.