Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Monty Alexander

Where: The Dakota
Who: Monty Alexander (piano), Hassan Shakur (bass), George Fludas (drums)

An all-acoustic, thoroughly satisfying show. This was my first time hearing Alexander live, though I often enjoy his CDs (Concrete Jungle, Impressions in Blue, Rocksteady, My America). The trio began with an original composition called (I think, but I'd rather be wrong) "Grub," then a gentle ballad called "Don't Go" before playing what many had come to hear: Alexander's jazz takes on tunes by his compatriot Bob Marley.

We heard "Running Away" and a beautiful "No Woman No Cry," both from Stir It Up, Alexander's first Marley collection (1999). (Concrete Jungle came out in 2006.) "No Woman" began as solo piano, tender and comforting (baby, please don't cry), after which the bass picked up the melody. Later, a loose and easy "Little Darlin'" took an unexpected turn when Shakur's bass went pit-deep and growled. The encore was a little bit of everything that finally settled down into "Fly Me to the Moon."

It was an evening of effortless swing, three fine musicians playing as one, three happy men on stage before a happy crowd. Don Berryman later said, "One word: Groovy. Okay, three more: In the pocket."

Jazz trivia: Hassan Shakur is the son of pianist Gerry Wiggins. Shakur also goes by (or has gone by) J.J. Wiggins, J.J. Hassan Shakur, and J.J. Hassan Shakur Wiggins.

Photo by John Whiting. L to R: Fludas, Alexander, Shakur.


  1. Hi, I'm Looking for the name of the acoustic bass player who played with Monty Alexander in summer 2008 in Jazz à Sète (france). It wasn't Hassen Shakur... maybe you know him.
    You can find a draw I made here : http://universdaurel.blogspot.com/2008/12/on-avance-on-avance.html (he is in green) Thanks a lot, see you !

  2. Hello Aurélie,

    I tried to find the answer to your question by studying your drawing and searching the Web. (I looked at US and international Web sites and the international press for reviews.) The festival program (http://www.jazzasete.com/monty_alexander.php) lists Shakur as Alexander's bass player but there must have been a last-minute change. Perhaps another bassist at the festival sat in? Have you tried to contact Mr. Alexander's manager for an answer? Here is contact information (US and France):
    Best of luck--when you learn the answer, please come back and post it here. I like your drawings.

  3. Hi, thanks for you help. I found the name. It's Lorin Cohen. You can look his website here : http://www.lorincohen.com/
    see you later!

  4. Thank you! Interesting to learn that Cohen is based in Chicago. I grew up near there and return occasionally--I'll have to check and see if he's playing next time I go.


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