Live At Montreux Festival
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This live recording from the famed festival by Lake Geneva qualifies as one of the piano trio classics of the 1970’s as well as a milestone in the Jamaican pianist’s catalogue. The 1976 album captures the moment in Alexander’s young career when he began to be compared to such giants as Oscar Peterson. Monty’s play combines the proficiency of his Canadian colleague with the feel of the Caribbean and a touch of gospel. Bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton form a sympathetic, cohesive rhythm section, and their clear-cut, penetrating solos are outstanding. The show captivated the audience from the first piece, an Ahmad Jamal composition that Alexander played with inspired blues variations, on through the soulful contemplations in “Feelings”. There is an exuberance to the swing on the Ellington piece “Satin Doll”, whereas the classic blues “Drown in My Own Tears” is played with sublime, gospel-tinged gravity. An archaic Afro-atmosphere permeates “Work Song”, as Clayton shows off his virtuoso talents. With its whimsical, infectious dramaturgy, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” stands out as a classic. After four and a half decades the infectious magic of that night in Montreux remains alive and palpable.