Jazz purists may turn up the nose at this jazz-reggae summit meeting, but that’s their loss. It’s not that they wouldn’t have the right to be suspicious — experiments in jazz-reggae fusion do not have a distinguished history. But the combination of Jamaican-born jazz pianist Monty Alexander and reggae godfathers Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare works beautifully here for a number of reasons: first of all, Alexander is a gifted melodist with an unerring sense of groove (not always a given with jazz players), and second of all, Sly and Robbie emancipated themselves long ago from reggae’s rhythmic strictures, so there’s lots of variety on this album. The grooves are never less than bone deep: on “Monty’s Groove,” Shakespeare’s minimalist bassline and Dunbar’s funky drumming propel Alexander into inspired (if a bit restrained) flights of improvisation, and “People Make the World Go ‘Round” is a slow, dark dancehall workout that gives Alexander’s piano lots of open space to work with. “Hot Milk,” the album’s closer, is a touching tribute to the late reggae organist Jackie Mittoo, on which Alexander plays mournful melodica over a modified rocksteady beat. There are times when you might wish Alexander would cut loose and wail a bit more, but this album is a delight from beginning to end. – Rick Andersonmore »
Monty Meets Sly And Robbie
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