Legendary pianist Monty Alexander bridges the worlds of jazz, popular song, and the music of his native Jamaica in his vibrant, soulful renditions. He has performed and recorded with artists from every corner of the music and entertainment world, delighting a global audience with his broad repertoire and sophisticated voicings.
Listen to Monty Alexander Trio
More about Monty Alexander
More than 50 years after moving to the United States from his hometown of Kingston, Jamaica, pianist Monty Alexander is an American classic, touring the world relentlessly with various projects, delighting a global audience drawn to his vibrant personality and soulful message. His spirited conception is one informed by the timeless verities: endless melody-making, effervescent grooves, sophisticated voicings, and a romantic spirit. In the course of any given performance, Alexander applies those aesthetics to repertoire spanning a broad range of jazz and Jamaican musical expression—the American songbook and the blues, gospel and bebop, calypso and reggae.
Playing Christmas carols by ear at age 4, Alexander was entertaining neighbors and relatives by age 5, and took his first piano lessons at age 6. When Alexander was 9 years old, his father, a Kingston merchant, brought him to hear and play for the legendary pianist Eddie Heywood. At age 10, he saw Nat “King” Cole play at Kingston’s Carib Theater, the same venue where, at age 13, he heard a concert featuring Louis Armstrong, both of which became important musical influences. By age 14, Alexander began to display his skills in local clubs. Soon thereafter, he made his first recordings, both as leader of a group called Monty and the Cyclones, and as a sideman for such legendary producers as Ken Khouri (Federal Records), Duke Reade (Treasure Isle), and Clement Coxsone Dodd at Studio One.
After moving to New York, Alexander held a steady gig at Jilly’s, the eponymous West 52nd Street piano bar owned by Frank Sinatra’s close friend Jilly Rizzo. There, for the next four years, Alexander’s trio swung until the wee hours of the morning for Sinatra, a mix of celebrity entertainers, tough guys, thrill seekers, and such iconic jazzfolk as Miles Davis, Count Basie, Milt Jackson, and Roy Haynes. As the 1960s progressed, he also held regular gigs at Minton’s (the iconic Harlem lounge where bebop gestated) and at the Playboy Club. During those years, he also met Ray Brown and piano giant Oscar Peterson, who recommended Alexander to Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer, the proprietor of Germany’s MPS label, for which he made a dozen records between 1971 and 1985.
Alexander’s discography already included five leader LPs when he made his first MPS recording in 1971, with bassist Eugene Wright, drummer Duffy Jackson, and conguero Montego Joe. By 1977, when Alexander made the tenth of his 12 sessions for MPS (Estate), he was internationally recognized as an upper-echelon master, deeply influenced by Brown’s “let’s party all night” approach to the piano trio function. Alexander had a prolific recording career with Concord, which presented him in swinging trio contexts, and for Telarc, where he probed deeply into mento, Jamaica’s indigenous calypso. As Alexander’s explorations progressed, he found it ever more complicated to convene a single ensemble in which he could satisfactorily coalesce things that reflected his heritage as an English-speaking Caribbean person and his love for hard swinging jazz.
In August 2000, the Jamaican government designated Alexander Commander in the Order of Distinction for outstanding services to Jamaica as a worldwide music ambassador. In 2015, the great modern pianist Donald Vega released With Respect To Monty, which included his interpretations of seven Alexander compositions.
*Gardens Preferred & Gardens Premium Member Discount
Gardens Preferred and Gardens Premium Members receive up to 15% off 2018–2019 Performance Series tickets and receive access to the Member Pre-sale. If you are eligible, your discount code was provided to you via e-mail. Use the discount code to unlock your Membership pricing.
Enjoy a complimentary coffee reception with the artist after this performance.