THANKSGIVING JAZZ

Jamaican jazz pianist, Monty Alexander and Harlem Kingston Express perform on the Stravinski Hall stage at the 43rd Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland, Friday, July 10, 2009.
Associated Press/Keystone/Jean-Christophe Bott/File

The Westchester Reggae Experience, which was sidelined because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is back on schedule with a highly anticipated performance by Jamaican Jazz legend, Monty Alexander, slated for Thanksgiving Friday, Nov. 26, at Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown.

The event was successfully launched in 2019 at the Capitol Theatre in Portchester, New York with performances by Reggae Queen Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt, the International Women In Reggae (IWIR) and the legendary Ken Boothe, backed by Derrick Barnett and his Statement band.

Event executive Andrea Bullens told Caribbean Life on that Alexander will return to the stage in New York, with his Harlem-Kingston Express, which brings together musicians versed in both reggae and jazz.

“To get back on stage is like getting back in the saddle,” Alexander said. “It feels so natural, because that’s where I live, on a bandstand, bringing music to the people.”

Bullens said Alexander is renowned as an upper echelon master of the swinging piano trio function, “as he has demonstrated with several top-shelf groups, including iconic units with bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton (‘Montreux Alexander ‘76’), and with the legendary bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis (‘Triple Treat’).”

Alexander is also ranked as the fifth greatest jazz pianist ever in The Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players of All Time (Hal Leonard Publishing), Bullens said.

In August 2000, the Jamaican government designated Alexander as Commander in the Order of Distinction for outstanding services to Jamaica as a worldwide music ambassador.

Monty Alexander performs during the 50th Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland, June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File

In 2018, the University of the West Indies bestowed on Alexander an honorary doctorate (D. Litt).

Bullens said that, “at age 77, Monty is still touring and entertaining fans globally.”

A perennial favorite at Jazz festivals and venues worldwide, and at the Montreux Jazz Festival where he has appeared 23 times since 1976, Alexander’s “spirited conception is one informed by the timeless verities: endless melody-making, effervescent grooves, sophisticated voicings, a romantic spirit and a consistent predisposition,” Bullens said.

She added that the Tarrytown Music Hall, where Alexander will perform on Nov. 26, “boasts its own decorated history.”

Bullens said it is the oldest theater in Westchester County that is still being used as a theater.

She said several films and television commercials have been shot inside the theatre, including The Preacher’s Wife (1996), The Impostors (1998), The Secret Lives of Dentists (2003), Mona Lisa Smile (2003), Game 6 (2005) and The Good Shepherd that was directed by Robert De Niro.

Bullens said she is excited to once again present live music to patrons who are thirsty for quality entertainment.

“Since we announced Monty, we have definitely got a lot of positive feedback,” she said. “In fact, I have been getting calls from as far as Brooklyn and New Jersey.

“This venue is a vaccine-only theatre,” she said. “Everyone will also have to wear masks to protect each other.

“Folks are tired of being locked up, tired of zooming, especially the mature folks,” Bullens continued.

Tickets available at http://www.tarrytownmusichall.org or by calling the box office at 914-233-3856.

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