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Alexander,Monty(Montgomery Bernard)

jamaican ray played ska

Alexander, Monty (Montgomery Bernard), jazz pianist; b. Kingston, Jamaica, June 6, 1944. A fresh, delightful, and hard-swinging improvisor, Alexander began playing piano and accordion at age six. He enjoyed local styles such as the calypso, and listened to North American popular music on radio, in movies, and at concerts by Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Professor Longhair, and Nat King Cole. Alexander sat in with mento (traditional Jamaican dance music) and ska (a newer style) musicians and by his mid-teens was fronting his own ska group, Monty and The Cyclones, which issued a number of hit records from 1958 to 1960. He first played in the U.S. in 1961 with Art Mooney in Las Vegas, then settled there in 1963 and played clubs from N.Y. to Clearwater, Fla. His performance in Clearwater got him a job from 1963-67 as house pianist in N.Y. at July’s, where he accompanied Sammy Davis Jr., Judy Garland, and, for one set, Frank Sinatra. His work with Milt Jackson and Ray Brown led to further work as a jazz soloist with Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, and Miles Davis. He also worked in 1987 with Sonny Rollins and has led his own groups, occasionally incorporating some Jamaican influence such as steel drums on three “Ivory and Steel” recordings and the use of melodica. He made an album with Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin in 1978. He played on film soundtracks produced by Quincy Jones, served as a consultant to Clint Eastwood during the making of the film Bird, and still works with singers including Natalie Cole (on her 1991 Grammy-winning Unforgettable) and Mary Stallings.

Alexander,Roberta [next] [back] Alexander, John Hanks (1864–1894) - Army officer, educator, Attends Oberlin and West Point, Chronology, Begins Teaching Career

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