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World Music CD Reviews Jazz


By Michael Stone
Published March 3, 2006

Meeting Monty
Stunt Records

Jamaica-born pianist Monty Alexander began playing at age six, absorbed the influence of Louis Armstrong and Nat "King" Cole at Kingston's Carib Theater, and landed his first New York club gig at 18. Over a 35-year career (playing with Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and Milt Jackson, among others) Alexander has crafted a thoroughly contemporary sound, with a swinging genius that animates new material and standards alike. But his delightful collaboration with violinist-composer Kristian Jørgensen, among Denmark's emergent jazz and tango luminaries, is only a third of the magic on Meeting Monty. Jørgensen (who contributes six originals) evokes Stuff Smith, Ray Nance and Stephane Grappelli, while guitarist Jacob Fischer pays homage to Pat Metheny, Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhardt. But their playing is never derivative. The three have an uncanny feel for each other's styles, taking their time and blending their respective registers with a lightness born of rare artistry. Hear the exquisite interplay on Billy Strayhorn's lyrical "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing," Jørgensen's lively "Astor Samba," Reinhardt's "Oriental Shuffle," and the bluesy Alexander-Jørgensen duet, "Willow Weep for Me."