I grew up hearing Monty Alexander on the radio in Jamaica but had no idea who he was until years later when I saw him perform some of the music I was familiar with.
Monty Alexander was born in Kingston in 1944. He took his first piano lessons when he was six years old but he’s largely self-taught.
Over the years, Alexander, a jazz pianist who mixes jazz and reggae, has recorded as many as 70 albums. He’s performed and recorded with artists such as Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins, Milt Jackson and Clark Terry among others. He also assisted Natalie Cole with her tribute album, Unforgettable, which won seven Grammy Awards.
In addition, Alexander recorded the piano track for the Clint Eastwood movie, Bird, about the life of jazz icon, Charlie Parker.
Alexander was awarded the title of Commander in the Order of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica in 2000 for outstanding service to the country as worldwide music ambassador.
Since that first performance, I’ve seen Alexander in concert several times since then. Give a listen to his rendition of Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry and The Monty Alexander Trio playing Grub at the Dakota Jazz Club.