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JAMAICAN NATIONAL TREASURE MONTY ALEXANDER REIMAGINES THE MUSIC OF THELONIOUS MONK WITH THE RELEASE OF “WAREIKA HILL (RASTAMONK VIBRATIONS)”; NEW ALBUM SET FOR RELEASE AUGUST 23 IN CONJUNCTION WITH ALEXANDER’S 75TH BIRTHDAY

Monk was truly different in every way. The way he played music, the way he played the piano, the way he led his band, the way he walked down the street.  He would play his facile runs down the piano keyboard and it felt to me like he was playing them upwards, it felt somehow like he was playing back to front.  His sense of rhythm was his own, like no one else’s.  Like a Rastafarian in Jamaica, he was different.” – Monty Alexander

Kingston, Jamaica and New York, New York.   Several years in the making and infused with a lifetime of inspiration and appreciation, “WAREIKA HILL (RASTAMONK VIBRATIONS)”,  Monty Alexander’s delightfully imaginative, unique and compelling interpretation of the music of Thelonious Monk, is set for release August 23 via MACD Records.  Featuring eleven newly recorded tracks as well as a bonus live track recorded in Paris, “WAREIKA HILL” is a mind-boggling collective of classic Monk songs infused with a sensibility that melds the worlds of Jazz, Ska and Reggae into a unique melting pot of Monk with a twist.

Wareika Hill refers to a place in Jamaica, a place where Rastafarian musicians used to gather located behind Monty’s childhood home outside of Kingston.   As a child, he would hear the musicians going up the hill and playing playing their drums – and such became the early muse for these arrangements of Monk’s songs – songs infused with Monty’s own creativity, Jamaican grooves and childhood memories of not only Wareika Hill, but being introduced to Monk’s music as a teenager while recording as a sideman in course of many decades.
 the Federal Recording Studios in Kingston.  An appreciation of the man and his music ensued, and the germinating seeds for this project were born and developed over the

Says Alexander, “Maybe it was just my childhood memories connecting the two, but I was left with a deep impression that the world of Monk and Rasta were one spirit.  The way Rasta men would walk, talk and express themselves was a world within itself and so it was with Monk. “

2019 is also a banner year for the pianist extraordinaire.  Not only is Alexander celebrating his 75th birthday and six professional decades in the music industry playing with such greats as Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson, Sonny Rollins and Clark Terry, but he was recently bestowed an honorary Doctorate from the University of the West Indies (alongside another native Jamaican, the singer Grace Jones) as well as being a recipient of the Commander of Distinction title from Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson.  Bestowed with an ever-curious mind as well as deep pride and love for his Jamaican roots, Monty continues to explores music with a genre-bending fascination and “WAREIKA HILL” is the latest heartfelt stop on his continuous musical journey.

The release of “WAREIKA HILL” will be accompanied by extensive tour dates worldwide including a run at the Blue Note in New York City, Yoshi’s in San Francisco, the Royal Albert Hall in London and various festivals throughout Europe this summer and fall. 

“WAREIKA HILL” was produced by Monty Alexander and Caterina Zapponi and recorded at Brooklyn Recording Studios in New York City and features special guests Ron Blake, Wayne Escoffery, Joe Lovano and John Scofield.  Mastering Engineer was Alan Silverman and Recording Engineer was Alan Taub.  A complete track listing with personnel follows below.

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Recording Personnel:

Monty Alexander: piano

JJ Shakur: ac. bass

Jason Brown, Obed Calvaire: drums

Andy Bassford: guitar

Karl Wright: drums/percussion

Leon Duncan: electric bass

Junior Wedderburn, Abashani Wedderburn, Bongo Billy: Nyabinghi drums

Courtney Panton: electric bass

Earl Appleton: electric keyboards

Ron Blake: tenor sax

Wayne Escoffery: tenor sax

Joe Lovano: tenor sax solo (Green Chimneys)

John Scofield: guitar solo (“Brilliant Corners” and “Bye-a”)

Track Listing and Information:

MISTERIOSO

Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano), J.J. Shakur (bass), Jason Brown (drums), Earl Appleton (electric keyboards), Andy Bassford (guitar), Leon Duncan (electric bass), Karl Wright (drums)

Tenor Sax feature: Wayne Escoffery

SAN FRANCISCO HOLIDAY

Personnel: Monty Alexander, J.J. Shakur (bass), Obed Calvaire, Earl Appleton, Andy Bassford (guitar), Leon Duncan (elec. bass), Karl Wright

Tenor Sax feature: Ron Blake

BYE-YA

Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano), J.J. Shakur (bass), Obed Calvaire (drums), Andy Bassford (guitar), Earl Appleton (electric keyboards), Leon Duncan (electric bass), Karl Wright (drums)

Tenor Sax feature: Ron Blake

Guitar feature: John Scofield

RHYTHM-A-NING

Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano), J.J. Shakur (bass), Obed Calvaire (drums), Earl Appleton (electric keyboards), Andy Bassford (guitar), Leon Duncan (electric bass), Karl wright (drums)

Tenor Sax: Wayne Escoffery

BRILLIANT CORNERS

Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano and melodica), J.J. Shakur (bass), Obed Calvaire (drums), Earl Appleton (electric keyboards), Andy Bassford (guitar), Leon Duncan (electric bass), Karl wright (drums)

Tenor Sax: Wayne Escoffery

NUTTY

Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano), J.J. Shakur (bass), Jason Brown (drums), Earl Appleton (electric keyboards), Andy Bassford (guitar), Leon Duncan (electric bass)

Tenor sax feature: Wayne Escoffery

WELL YOU NEEDN’T

Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano), J.J. Shakur (bass), Jason Brown (drums), Andy Bassford (guitar), Leon Duncan (electric bass), Karl Wright (drums)

Tenor Sax: Wayne Escoffery

BEMSHA SWING

Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano), J.J. Shakur (bass), Jason Brown (drums), Andy Bassford (guitar), Earl Appleton (electric keyboard), Leon Duncan (electric bass), Karl Wright (drums), Courtney Panton (percussion)

Tenor sax feature: Wayne Escoffery

GREEN CHIMNEYS

Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano), Joe Lovano (sax), Courtney Panton (electric bass), Courtney Panton Jr. (drums)

Tenor sax feature: Joe Lovano

MONK’S DREAM

Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano), J.J. Shakur (bass), Obed Calvaire (drums), Earl Appleton (electric keyboards), Andy Bassford (guitar), Leon Duncan (electric bass), Karl Wright (drums)

ABIDE WITH ME

Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano)

Nyabinghi drummers: Junior Wedderburn, Abashani Wedderburn, Billy Bongo

WELL YOU NEEDN’T – LIVE IN PARIS

Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano), J.J. Shakur (bass), Jason Brown (drums), Andy Bassford (guitar), Leon Duncan (electric bass), Karl Wright (drums), Wayne Escoffery (tenor sax), Andrae Murchison (trombone)

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