Now available in discrete multi-channel surround SACD as well as the CD recording!
When Jamaican born Monty Alexander was a young boy, he idolized the American heroes of the silver screen. Among his favorites were the singing cowboys like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers—pop culture icons of the post-WWII era who embodied the most universal and appealing aspects of the American Dream: freedom, individualism, strength of character, and a frontier spirit.
"They sang melodic songs that evoked a feeling of freedom and liberty," Alexander recalls. "You'd watch these movies and you just wanted to be riding along with the good guys...As the years went by, I was capturing all these songs and playing them on the piano."
Years later, Alexander embraced the dream first-hand when he came to America with his family in the early 1960s at age 17. By then, the aspiring young pianist had adopted a new set of American icons as his heroes—an eclectic cross section of musical giants that included Count Basie, Nat Cole ("a staple in our house"), Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, James Brown and many others.
In tribute to the cowboys, crooners and other legends who have inspired him since his childhood, Alexander has recorded My America. The album is a twelve-track homage to the musical and cultural ideals that have drawn hundreds of millions of immigrants to the United States since the 1800s. While the songs are American in origin, Alexander brings a distinctly Jamaican groove to most of the tracks.
Many of the titles are familiar touchstones of 20th century popular music: Al Green's "Love and Happiness," the Louis Armstrong/Bobby Darin classic "Mack the Knife," and instrumental versions of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" and James Brown's "Sex Machine."
"It became like a party," says Alexander, recalling the extended "Sex Machine (Soul/Yard Meeting)" jam session. "We just started recording, and the next thing you know, it was eight or nine minutes long. We just kept the tape rolling."
Joining Alexander throughout My America are a few Telarc labelmates. Freddy Cole lends a hand in a syncopated rendition of Nat Cole's "Straighten Up and Fly Right," while John Pizzarelli steps in for an easygoing duet on the nostalgic "Summer Wind." Jazz vocalist Kevin Mahogany helps conjure up the spiritual element with a churning version of "Hallelujah, I Love Her So."
It all comes together in a rich melting pot that celebrates a nation's finest musical traditions. Experience Monty Alexander's America through the eyes and ears of an artist whose craft is a direct reflection of the dream. "It's a privilege for me to do this recording and play music by some of my favorite people," he says. "Because it's the music that brings people like me here."