Monty Alexander Biography
Monty Alexander (born Montgomery Bernard Alexander on June 6, 1944 in Kingston, Jamaica) is a Jamaican pianist. His playing has a strong Caribbean influence and swinging feeling, but he has also been influenced by Wynton Kelly, Art Tatum, Gene Harris and Ahmad Jamal.
Alexander discovered the piano at the age of 4, taking classical music lessons at 6 and became interested in jazz piano at the age of 14. Two years later, he directed a dance orchestra (Monty and the Cyclones) and played in the local clubs. Performances at the Carib Theater in Jamaica by Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole left a strong impression on the young pianist.
Alexander and his family moved to Miami, Florida in 1961 and he went to New York in 1962 and started to play at the jazz club Jilly's. In addition to performing with Frank Sinatra there, he also met and became friends with bassist Ray Brown and vibist Milt Jackson. In California, in 1965, he recorded his first album, Alexander the Great, for Pacific Jazz at the age of 21.
Alexander recorded with Milt Jackson in 1969, with Ernest Ranglin in 1974 and in Europe the same year with Ed Thigpen. He toured regularly in Europe and recorded there, mostly with his classic trio for the MPS Records. He also toured around 1976 with the steel-drums player Othello Molineaux. Alexander has also played with several singers such as Ernestine Anderson, Mary Stallings and other important leaders (Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, Jimmy Griffin and Frank Morgan). In his successive trios, he has played frequently with musicians associated with Oscar Peterson: Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, Mads Vinding, Ed Thigpen and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen.