Monty's Express back on track
Monty Alexander

THE novel coronavirus put the skids on the entertainment industry for more than one year but as the live show circuit gradually re-opens, seasoned musicians like Monty Alexander are getting back in the groove.

Alexander and his Harlem-Kingston Express are among the performers for Uptown Jazz, presented by Westchester Music Experience and scheduled for Friday in Tarrytown, New York.

“For a while there was zero activity, then I began to receive multiple invitations to play in Europe. So, I saw that the whole scene started to open up and I'm playing all over the place again, like before,” Alexander, 77, told the Jamaica Observer.

The pianist, whose began his career as a prodigy in Jamaica during the early 1960s, plans to give fans a sample of his next album at Friday's event. For the first time, fans will hear Alexander play, and sing, on record.

Born in Kingston, Alexander has played with the elites of jazz during his 60-year career which has spawned over 70 albums. In the past 25 years he has returned to his roots by working with Jamaican musicians including Ernie Ranglin, Sly and Robbie, Dean Fraser, and Wayne Armond.

Harlem-Kingston Express, which blends traditional jazz with Jamaican rhythms, is Alexander's broadest expression of his early career in Kingston.

“It has certainly evolved over the years. The K aspect, which is Kingston where I was born and raised, has evolved into a richer presentation. I don't know how everybody feels but the older we get the deeper the roots come back up — and that's what's happened to me,” he said.

Harlem-Kingston Express Live!, the collective's first album, was nominated for Best Reggae Album at the 2011 Grammy Awards.

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

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