Monty Alexander: My Mother's Eyes


My Mother's Eyes


Monty Alexander (piano)


Live at the Iridium (Telarc 83610)

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Monty Alexander (piano),

Hassan Shakur (bass), Mark Taylor (drums)


Composed by L. Wolfe Gilbert & Abel Baer


Recorded: live at the Iridium, New York, May 21-23, 2004


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Growing up on the island of Jamaica, Monty Alexander was exposed to the music of legendary guitarist Ernest Ranglin, with whom he later recorded. Over the years, Alexander has incorporated reggae, calypso and other Caribbean sounds into his performances. However, on the straight jazz side, Nat Cole was his main influence pianistically, and he has since shared Cole's fondness for the piano trio format. On Live at the Iridium, his trio explores many of his musical interests, but the track "My Mother's Eyes" is a prime example of his reverential approach to a lovely old (1929) ballad.

Alexander's stylistic versatility is on full display here. His opening unaccompanied journey through the theme is openly sentimental, with loads of big chords, sweeping arpeggios, and even a strum of the piano strings for added effect. When Shakur and Taylor enter to provide their impeccable support, the pianist's bluesy voicings now prevail, with tremolos galore. When the tempo is doubled, Alexander adds more boppish lines, as well as some resounding Erroll Garner-flavored chording. The tempo is accelerated again briefly, which only makes Alexander's return to the loping pace of his intro that much more dramatic, as he tenderly progresses to an unadorned and tranquil rest. Although glimpses of Garner, Cole, Oscar Peterson, Gene Harris and even George Shearing seem to arise during this performance, no one puts these influences together more seamlessly than Bernard Montgomery Alexander.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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