Sat Jun 15

Monty Alexander 80th Birthday

Sat, June 15
9PM / $50 | $7 Fees
Get Tickets
Blues Alley

1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20007

Monty Alexander

I love Jamaica. I love America. I love them both together more than each one separately. I inhabit the rhythmic aspect of both things. I can’t explain why. I do it naturally and joyfully. I am confident and proud and privileged to say that I come from a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic thing. The slogan of Jamaica is like America’s ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ ‘out of many, one people.’”—Monty Alexander, 2014

 

Born on June 6, 1944, Monty Alexander belongs to a generation of modern jazz piano heroes.

From a multicultural, multi-ethnic universe, somewhere between jazz and reggae, he’s a true champion of the Great American Song Book and the world’s finest avatar of Jamaican jazz.

Monty’s music combines the rhythms of his native West Indian Caribbean land with North-American harmonies and forms. At 16, he was already expert in all the dance musics of the day: cha-cha, merengue, calypso...

“It was music with a beat, and depending how you attack the rhythm, how fierce the rhythm would get, people would want to dance and clap their hands. The music came up with that certain identifiably Jamaican accent or rhythm, the way people talk walk or drive,” he remembers.

Exposed to all types of music at dances, he also developed a passion for rhythm’ n blues as well as for Nat King Cole or the inventors of bebop, who he heard on the radio and sought to play be ear. Monty also took part in the early days of ska in the Kingston studios that arranged his first engagements.

At 17, he moved to the United States, where he didn’t take long to be noticed by a certain Frank Sinatra, who eased his rip-roaring entry into the big league of the jazzmen of the day. Monty accompanied the great figures of be-bop including Milt Jackson, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Griffin and Benny Golson. To this day he carries on the tradition of the full orchestral swinging pianists started by Nat King Cole (in his turn influenced by Earl Fatha Hines), and continued on by Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal and Wynton Kelly, all of whom he forged close friendships with in the early 60’s.

He recorded for Pacific Jazz for the first time under his name at the age of 20. Alexander The Great was and is a supercharged album that introduced the world to the young prodigy. Critics spoke of “accessible jazz, joyous swing, effusive, without histrionics”. These early years left Alexander with an indelible impression of a wide-open window onto an eclectic world.

Armed with an intransigent spirit, a total commitment to his art and incredible musical intuition, he has since developed an instantly recognizable style and has recorded over 75 albums to date.

As with many jazz giants, Europe in the sixties, seventies and eighties was a fundamental haven for Alexander and it was also where his international stature grew.

A documentary about his life is currently in the works. After a career spanning over 60 years, he’s still writing musical history today.

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Sat, June 15

9PM / $50 | $7 Fees
Get Tickets

*Please note:
1. Final sale, no refunds, not transferable.
2. $15 food/beverage minimum per person not included in ticket price.
3. Seating first come at the door. Doors open 6 PM & 8:45 PM respectively.
4. Photography or Recording of any kind is prohibited during the performance.
5. Keep conversation to a minimum during the performance.

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