The exuberance is still a vivid recollection. Joyfulness really! My wife and I were at the Jazz Standard in Manhattan listening to Monty Alexander for the first time. My recollection, it was 2001, who knew what was to come.
Monty and I then met in New York and in a booth at the Greek restaurant, Molyvos, the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival was conceived. And now we are in the tenth year. Whew!
Monty Alexander is gifted and not just in music. He has the gift of entertainment. He is of course a consummate musician but has a love affair with his audiences. He is quite direct, “I want to bring joy”.
Monty’s melodies trace a remarkable life. This year’s theme: A Life In Music. There were remarkable influences; he speaks of Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole. And he loves to tell stories of the times with Frank Sinatra and Dizzy Gillespie and the gigs with Ray Brown, Milt Jackson, Charlie Byrd and so many more.
And Monty, a good son of Jamaica, always tempts and then spoils his audiences with the inviting sounds of reggae and calypso blended, of course, with a lifetime of jazz phrasing and rhythms. Improvisation at its best.
And those of us who are fortunate to collaborate in Jazz on the Chesapeake, have also enjoyed a special relationship with Caterina Zapponi his wife and oh so special vocalist. Caterina almost always takes a star turn and in our celebration of the 10th Anniversary she will certainly join in.
In short this is not an article about a jazz musician. This is a love note from Easton to Monty Alexander.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.