In a career spanning five decades, pianist Monty Alexander has built a reputation exploring the worlds of American jazz, popular song, and the music of his native Jamaica, finding in each a sincere spirit of musical expression. In the process, he has performed and recorded with artists from every corner of the musical universe: Frank Sinatra, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Ernest Ranglin, Barbara Hendricks, Sly Dunbar, and Robbie Shakespeare, among many others.
Born on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, he took his first piano lessons at age six but was largely self-taught. As a teenager, he witnessed concerts by Louis Armstrong and Nat "King" Cole at Kingston's Carib Theater. He formed Monty and the Cyclones in the late 60s and also recorded on sessions with musicians who would later form The Skatalites.
Alexander and his family came to the United States at the end of 1961. Less than two years later, while playing in Las Vegas with Art Mooney's orchestra, he caught the eye of New York City club owner Jilly Rizzo and his friend, Frank Sinatra. Rizzo hired the young pianist to work in his club, Jilly's, where he accompanied Sinatra and others.
His musical collaborations span multiple genres and styles. His projects have been as varied as assisting Natalie Cole in her tribute album to her father, Nat "King" Cole in 1991 (that album, Unforgettable, won seven Grammy awards), performing George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" under the direction of Bobby McFerrin at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, and recording the piano track for the film score of Clint Eastwood's Bird, a movie about the life of jazz titan Charlie Parker.
In August 2000 Monty Alexander was awarded the title of Commander in the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government for outstanding services to Jamaica in his capacity as worldwide music ambassador.
Two collections were released in 2011 that capture the excitement of Monty Alexander's live performances around the world: Uplift, a trio album on JLP Records, and Harlem-Kingston Express on Motema Music. Between Uplift and Harlem-Kingston Express Monty Alexander has officially dominated the US Radio Charts with three number 1 spots, all in the summer of 2011.