@ the Cadogan Hall
19 November 2013
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Monty Alexander was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. He began
piano lessons at the age of six. As a youngster he would sit in
and listen to the many jazz musicians who worked in nightclubs and
hotels in the area. He was fortunate to be able to witness performances
from the likes of Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong.
Alexander went on to form the group Monty and the Cyclones. Between
1958-1960 the group scored many hits in the Jamaican charts. Alexander
went to the United States towards the tail end of 1961, where he
would be successful at landing himself a gig with Art Mooney’s
orchestra in Las Vegas. Alexander would soon progress to work for
New York City club owner Jilly Rizzo, as the house pianist. This
position would see him accompany many performers such as Frank Sinatra.
Alexander continued to impress listeners and further meetings and
collaborations were born. He would go on to work with Dizzy Gillespie,
Clark Terry, and Sonny Rollins.
Alexander’s growth and collaborations have continued throughout
his prolific career. In 1991 he worked with Natalie Cole on her
tribute album to her father, Nat “King” Cole. The album
Unforgettable won seven Grammy awards. In 1993, he performed at
Carnegie Hall in a tribute to the great jazz pianist Erroll Garner.
In August 1996, Alexander performed George Gershwin's “Rhapsody
in Blue” with a full symphony orchestra directed by Bobby
McFerrin at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland. By the end of that
same year, he had recorded nearly sixty CDs under his own name,
and was frequently performing at leading festivals and music venues
such as the Montreux Jazz Festival.
To date he has worked with a remarkably diverse number of artists
from around the globe such as Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Ernst
Ranglin Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins and many more.