Sunday, April 10, 2011

Monty Alexander commemorates 50 years of music with new album

S. Victor Aaron
via All About Jazz

Kingston, Jamaica's own Monty Alexander looms as large a figure in Jamaica's jazz world as Bob Marley does for its homegrown reggae. A virtuosic pianist in the Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson tradition, Alexander often melds Tatum and Peterson with the dancehall, calypso and reggae idioms from his homeland, and nobody does it better.

Regardless of the particular style of jazz he chooses, his piano playing lies at the heart of his artistry. He's truly a thrilling, joyful player with a flair for trills, block chord bombardments and amazing single note runs.

He avoids being overly showy due to the Peterson-like elegance in his playing style; he's a hard swinger and always respectful of tradition even when he branches away from it. This guy is a real legend.
Released March 8 ahead of his Birdland shows, Uplift, a collection of live recordings taken from assorted concerts between 2007 and 2010, isn't one of those tribute or stylistic exercise records he likes to make from time to time, and which are usually enjoyable excursions. Rather, it's straight up acoustic piano trio jazz containing a healthy mixture of standards and originals, which remains the best way to fully appreciate what a phenomenal player Mr. Alexander truly is.

Joining Alexander are Hassan Shakur on bass and either Herlin Riley or Frits Landesbergen on drums. These aren't household names, but they know well how to bolster the leader without competing for attention.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Reggae interpretation of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" released, musicians unknown

Reggae Interpretation of Kind Of Blue, a tribute to Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, is an album too long in waiting of which California based reggae artist manager Issa Aryanpure dubbed “one of the most unique albums of its kind”.

According to Aryanpure, in 1981, a group of Jamaican musicians got together under the direction of New York University Prof. Jeremy Taylor, a jazz musician and educator, the result a masterpiece album. It is unfortunate, however, that Taylor passed away shortly after recording this album and it was never released until 2009.

Posthumously Secret Stash Records worked with the family of Prof. Taylor to turn this project into a reality. Prof. Taylor, who was fascinated by Jamaican music for a long time, traveled to the island several times to study the home-grown music with some of the best players of the time.

In his 1979 book, “A Space Between” Taylor wrote, “My first trip to Jamaica (May 1977) was the most eye-opening musical experience of my life. I met so many incredible players who had been brushed off by the snobby musical establishment…..I had to find a way to showcase their unparalleled talent in a different medium and this was the spark that lit the fire to create this reggae tribute to Miles Davis’ best selling jazz album of all times.

Kind of Blue put it in the hands of formidable Jamaican musicians result in the unparalleled Reggae Interpretation of Kind Of Blue. The album offers 5 tracks along with a dub of each one for a total of 10 tracks!

01.So What
02.Freddie Freeloader
03.Blue in Green
04.All Blues
05.Flamenco Sketches
06.So What Dub Version
07.Freddie Freeloader Dub Version
08.Blue in Green Dub Version
09.All Blues Dub Version
10.Flamenco Sketches Dub Version

Friday, April 1, 2011

Seretse Small: one passionate guitarist

Jamaica Observer story

Watching musician Seretse Small on guitar you wouldn't have the slightest idea that guitar was not his first love! But, according to Small he really wanted to play the saxophone and then go on to drums but his dad could afford neither

" I got caught, not with a guitar bug, but a music and culture bug in the 70's primarily from being with my mother as she innovated Caribbean theatre at the Cultural Arts Centre at UWI," recalled Small about his journey into music. Read more: Seretse Small