Written by 10:06 am Music

Monty’s day within the sun

Monty Alexander

TOMORROW, Monty Alexander is anticipated to stride to the rostrum at King’s House and receive the Order of Jamaica from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen throughout the National Honours and Awards ceremony.

A large of contemporary jazz, the pianist will accept his country’s fifth-highest honour during a nostalgic period as Jamaica is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary as an independent nation while Alexander released Love Notes, his latest album, in August.

The 11-song set features his distinct piano touches but fans also get to listen to Alexander sing, a rarity. His voice stands out on renditions of the Harry Belafonte standard Island in The Sun and on As Time Goes By, the timeless piece from Casablanca, the 1942 movie starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid.

The 78-year-old musician described his OJ call as “a really wonderful surprise”, adding that, “It’s a really appreciated honour that makes me very blissful.”

Love Notes was released in August and continues Alexander’s jazzy reflections on his life in Jamaica throughout the Fifties and early Sixties, when he savoured the sounds of Belafonte, Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole. He also worked as a session musician and witnessed the birth of ska.

Shortly after migrating to america in 1961 his prodigious talent was spotted by none aside from Frank Sinatra while Alexander was playing at Le Bistro, a Miami club. Sinatra really helpful him to his friend Jilly Rizzo, owner of the hip Jilly’s club in Manhattan which became one in all the venues that introduced Alexander to jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis.

He has recorded over 75 albums of mainly traditional jazz. Within the last 25 years Alexander has honoured his heritage by working with Jamaican musicians comparable to guitarist Ernie Ranglin, Sly and Robbie, saxophonist Dean Fraser, guitarist Wayne Armond and drummer Desi Jones.

His Harlem-Kingston Express band, formed over 20 years ago, pays homage to his Jamaican and American music influences. On Love Notes he continues that reflective journey.

“After 75 albums I desired to do something that was vocal, of this nature. I wanted to do this with a special rhythm section that reflects Jamaica,” he shared.

Monty Alexander is one in all three individuals from the entertainment industry awarded the OJ this yr. Other recipients are Entertainment Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange and actress Sheryl Lee Ralph.

Poet Kwame Dawes has been awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander Class); former Trojan Records marketing executive Anthony “Chips” Richards, deejay Jeffrey “Agent Sasco” Campbell, singers Myrna Hague-Bradshaw and Kendrick “Lord Creator” Patrick, playwright Basil Dawkins, poet/folklorist Amina Blackwood-Meeks, and John Swaby (film and technical production) are recipients of the OD, Officer Class.

Delroy Williams has been awarded a Badge of Honour for “long and faithful service to non secular music”.

Monty Alexander
Pianist Monty Alexander (left) and Ernie Ranglin in performance. (Photo: Observer file)

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