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Monday, January 29, 2018

To Monty Alexander at Bruce Eaton's Albright-Knox Art of Jazz series yesterday. At these concerts
 there is usually some sort of a pre-show event. Sometimes it's a movie, occasionally it is an artist's talk, but usually it is Bruce Eaton talking about the context that the music we about to hear comes from. Mr. Alexander is from Jamaica, and the arc of his career is a long one. To illustrate the history of Jamaican music Bruce elected to describe the career of a Jamaican guitarist/producer Ernest Raglin. Mr. Raglin was an early mentor to Mr. Alexander, and the two  of them nicely illustrate the influence of jazz on trans-Caribbean music. It's an interesting way to think about this stuff: I am used to thinking of the Afro-Cuban sound that Dizzy Gillespie found and ran with, and of course there are many other ways to think about the jazz diaspora. All it takes is big ears.

Mr. Alexander himself played in a trio that was mostly straight-ahead, and reminded me a bit of Errol Gardner-- melodic improvisation, with a lot of witty quotation and just enough fancy flourishes to make it clear that he wasn't just showing off-- they were having fun up on stage, and wanted us to have fun too. He's a bit of a raconteur, and had some stories about earlier visits to Buffalo, interactions with Frank Sinatra and Miles Davis, and other topics near to my heart, but what was most notable was the way he integrated reggae material into the set. A very nice afternoon.

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