Monday, 22 October 2012

Monty Alexander - Stir It Up The Music Of Bob Marley

The Jamaican-born pianist Monty Alexander has worked with musicians such as Milt Jackson, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sonny Rollins, but over the years he has always managed to wed North American improvisation to reggae and Jamaican folk rhythms. This CD is a happy hybrid of all of the above. Alexander weaves his American rhythm section consisting of drummer Troy Davis, bassist Hassan Shakur, and guitarist Derrick Di Cenzo with the five-man Jamaican ensemble Gumption--who back up dancehall stars like Buju Banton: drummer Rolando Alphonso, guitarist Robert Angus, keyboardist Dwight Dawes, bassist Glen Brownie, and percussionist Desy Jones. The result: Imagine the Nat King Cole Trio sitting in with the Wailers and you'll get the CD's boppish island-breezed vibe. Alexander and crew stick to Marley's melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic structures. Spliff anthem "Jamming," title tune "Kaya," and "Could You Be Loved" can rock any sports utility vehicle or summer festival, while "Heathen" rings with Alexander's raindrop chords, piercing melodica, and ethereal tonal shadings. The ska-guitar scratches drive "Is This Love?" and Alexander's gospelish pianisms echo Marley's loving laments on "No Woman No Cry." Steve Turre makes a guest appearance and his splendid seashell sound heralds "I Shot the Sheriff." Alexander's plaintive composition "Nesta"--Marley's middle name--is spiced by Jones's Rastafarian nyabinghi conga rhythms and completes this jazzy "jump up" carnival.
Alexander effectively and infectiously fuses jazz and reggae into a cohesive sound that may portend the future of one-world music without boundaries or labels.

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