This practitioner of good time music comes from Kingston, Jamaica, where his first exposure to music came from rhythm and blues and calypso- a conditioning influence that explains the resiliency and wit of his jazz time. For a number of years he studied classical piano, but remained an avid fan of Art Tatum, Nat King Cole and Oscar Peterson. His family moved to Miami when Monty was 17, and he quickly became part of the music scene there, working with Art Mooney's band and at various clubs. Alexander then moved to New York, and soon was being talked about by leading musicians, including Oscar Peterson, who recommended to the MPS label in Germany that Alexander record for their company. Monty did record for MPS, as well as several other labels, thereby expanding his terrain to European audiences.
Although he swings with spirit on medium and up-tempos, Alexander is also a convincing spinner of love songs. On ballads, as a reviewer says, "he is a poignant water colorist, a light-touch interpreter of the ballad art." The same writer, Tom Moon, of the Miami Herald, described how, among the ingredients in Monty Alexander's distinctive style, are many flavors of bop as well as touches of an Art Tatum-like stride playing, and pungent elements of Latin American and West Indian colors and phrasing. "Alexander's lines," Moon wrote, "bubble and break like waves, and occasionally...the slight pianist moved his entire body in order to work the extremes of the instrument." Not surprisingly, one of Alexander's most supportive admirers is Dizzy Gillespie. Like Dizzy, the pianist's view of life and music is that they are to be savored, not worried to death. Like Dizzy, he enjoys his audiences and indeed considers them an integral part of his music.
Monty's latest release, Caribbean Circle, serves to combine nearly all of the elements from Monty's life that make him the virtuoso that he is. Here you'll find a rich collage and reflection of the many influences that have molded the extraordinary talent in Monty Alexander, as Caribbean Circle captures the essence of mainstream jazz flavored with bits of gospel, calypso and reggae. Monty is aided in this project by a stellar cast of supporting musicians, including the likes of Jon Faddis, Slide Hampton and Frank Foster, as well as a host of others, as they help Monty to create a revealing and intimate portrait of both his life and his music. Internationally-revered pianist, Monty Alexander, has received praise from all over the world.
"Alexander's playing is kaleidoscopic, energetic, musically knowing; it delights the mind as well as the senses." - New York Post
"Monty Alexander is one of those musicians whose playing takes virtuosity as a matter of course. His pianistic technique is breathtaking and one would be hard-pressed to think of an equal." - Baltimore Sun
"Alexander is living, breathing music; the most crackling, swinging and thoughtful piano playing of our time." - Kansas City Times