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Monty Alexander
Monty Alexander  Biography
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Monty Alexander grew up in Kingston, Jamaica where he began piano lessons at the age of six. While still a youngster, he enjoyed the performances of Louis Armstrong and Nat 'King' Cole, and his style of playing was deeply affected by their joyful gospel of Jazz. In 1963, Alexander was performing in Las Vegas, Nevada with Art Mooney's Orchestra and was observed by Jilly Rizzo and 'the chairman of the board,' Frank Sinatra. Jilly hired him to work at his club in New York City, and it was at 'Jilly's' that he met and was hired by Milt Jackson. Soon after, he began an association with bassist Ray Brown that lasted for years. He also went on to perform with such Jazz legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry and Sonny Rollins.

In 1971, Alexander recruited several Jamaican studio musicians (including the legendary guitarist Ernest Ranglin) for a recording titled RASS, which has recently been sampled by the London hip-hop crowd. He assisted Natalie Cole in a tribute to her father, Nat 'King' Cole, in 1991. The album, 'Unforgettable,' won seven Grammy awards. In 1992, he made the recording 'Yard Movement,' which launched the Island Jazz label.

As a teenage studio musician in the late '50s, Alexander knew Bob Marley's name before anyone outside Jamaica did, even though he never worked with him. Alexander points out, 'I knew of him because he was one of a number of singer-songwriters that wrote songs we backed up in the studio. He was only one of many, writing little love songs - before he became a Rastafarian, and a political messenger, and a near-prophet.'

Alexander concludes, 'This music is a perfect example of how two cultures can come together. Jazz and reggae musicians are really going towards the same goal. I feel privileged to be a link between American and Jamaican cultures, playing music that everyone enjoys. As Bob Marley himself said, 'One love.'

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