Monty Alexander has always maintained a flair for trio playing and understands the basics of that partnership. “Trio playing at best, is a situation in which the participants willingly support each other,” he explains, “working together as one and going along with the ‘driver's’ directions, each player bringing virtuosity, optimism, mutual respect, good will, and of course, the desire to ‘make it feel good’ for all human beings in the general proximity.” Alexander and his supremely talented rhythm section—bassist Hassan Shakur and drummer Mark Taylor, both of whom have backed Monty since the ‘80s—are the quintessential incarnation of this definition.
Impressions In Blue is the Monty Alexander Trio’s celebration of the bluesier side of jazz, with eleven tracks that include favorites from the great American songbook, as well as few selections of more exotic origin. After a couple fine opening pieces, “Blue Rhapsody” and “Aranjuez Impressions,” the remainder of the tracks are grouped by theme. The first section, Duke’s Reflections, features tunes by Duke Ellington, including “Come Sunday,” “David Danced,” and the soulful, Louisiana-flavored “Creole Love Call.”
The next section, Where the Trade Winds Blow, features the musical styles of three locations in the West Indies—“Accompong” (Jamaica), “Eleuthra” (Bahamas) and “Pointe-a-Pitre” (Guadeloupe)—and celebrates the turn of the century on the beautiful French-speaking islands.
King Cole Reflections celebrates the life and music of the great Nat “King” Cole, with guest stylings by Telarc labelmate John Pizzarelli on three Cole classics—“Swinging at the Capitol,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon” and “Body and Soul.”
Under the heading Way Out West, Alexander delivers a catchy rendition of Johnny Mercer’s “I’m an Old Cowhand,” a favorite of B-Western movie fans everywhere.
Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Monty Alexander began his piano studies at the age of six. As a youngster, he was often invited to sit in with the bands of prominent musicians in Jamaica. While still a teenager, he witnessed the performances of Louis Armstrong and Nat “King” Cole at the Carib Theater in Jamaica, and his piano style was deeply affected by their joyful gospel of jazz. Impressions in Blue is Monty’s fifth release on Telarc and the followup to last year’s highly acclaimed My America, an homage to the musical and cultural ideals that have drawn hundreds of millions of immigrants to the United States since the 1800s.