This special performance is a coming together of two magnificent Jamaicans and friends-who've known each other a very very long time to celebrate music and dance at the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival!
Garth Fagan Dance is an internationally acclaimed contemporary American dance company, a bustling school of dance with an enrollment of 400 students, and a community-based resource of broad and growing influence, whose home has remained in Rochester for almost five decades.
The company’s start began in the ‘70s when the country was just beginning to emerge from a tumultuous decade of riots and widespread unrest. As part of his recent appointment to the faculty at the State University of New York in Brockport, Garth Fagan began teaching dance classes at the SUNY Educational Opportunity Center in downtown Rochester. Many of his students had no previous training. Most came from inner city, economically disadvantaged backgrounds. But Fagan was so inspired by their raw talent and tenacity that he decided to transform this highly unconventional group of dancers into a professional company, based not in one of the world’s cultural capitals but in upstate New York.
From this early start, the organization has continued to evolve, shaped by the values that first prompted its formation, Garth Fagan Dance is still dedicated to the sentiments expressed in its founding mission…
To advance, nurture, and sustain Garth Fagan’s pioneering vision of contemporary dance through… Creation, performance, and preservation of his choreography and the commissioning of works by company dancers. Dance training that encourages young people, regardless of their race, gender, or financial resources to develop their full potential. Educational programs, performances, and activities that enrich communities and engage audiences.<
Dr. Monty Alexander, CD, DLitt
Nearly sixty years after he moved to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica, his hometown, Grammy nominated pianist Monty Alexander is an American classic, touring the world relentlessly with various projects, delighting a global audience drawn to his vibrant personality and soulful message. A perennial favorite at Jazz festivals and venues worldwide and at the Montreux Jazz Festival where he has appeared 23 times since 1976, his spirited conception is one informed by the timeless verities: endless melody-making, effervescent grooves, sophisticated voicings, a romantic spirit, and a consistent predisposition, as Alexander accurately states, “to build up the heat and kick up a storm.” In the course of any given performance, Alexander applies those aesthetics to a repertoire spanning a broad range of jazz and Jamaican musical expressions—the American songbook and the blues, gospel and bebop, calypso and reggae. Documented on more than 75 recordings and cited as the fifth greatest jazz pianist ever in The Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players of All Time (Hal Leonard Publishing), the Jamaican government designated Alexander Commander in the Order of Distinction in 2000 and in 2018 The University of The West Indies bestowed him with an honorary doctorate degree (DLitt) in recognition of his accomplishments.
Alexander is most widely known 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, and with the legendary bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis. The most recent demonstrations of his creative, charismatic trio sensibility are the percolating 2011 dates Uplift and Uplift 2 (JLP), following the sublime 2008 albums, Calypso Blues: The Music of Nat King Cole and The Good Life: Monty Alexander Plays the Songs of Tony Bennett (Chesky). Alexander was featured pianist on the Tony Bennett-Count Basie Orchestra, A Swinging Christmas.
Born on D-Day, June 6, 1944, Alexander was playing Christmas carols by ear at 4, entertaining neighbors and relatives by 5, taking his first piano lessons at 6. He resisted formal instruction, but still, as a child, absorbed all the musical flavors that comprise his mature sonic palette.
After moving to Miami in 1961, Alexander sublimated Jamaican roots towards establishing a jazz identity. By 1963, he was ensconced in New York City, working regularly at Jilly’s, the West 52nd Street piano bar owned by Frank Sinatra’s close friend Jilly Rizzo.
There, for the next four years, Alexander’s trio swung until the wee hours for Sinatra, a mix of celebrity entertainers, tough guys, and iconic jazz musicians like Miles Davis, Count Basie, Milt Jackson, and Roy Haynes.
2019 marks the 10th edition of his name sake's Jazz Festival which has been taking place every Labor Day weekend in Easton, MD and where he has served as Artistic Director and perennial performer.
“Even now, it’s one world of music for me,” Alexander says. “I try to remove all the lines. Even though I do this thing and that thing and the other thing, at the end of the day it’s Monty Alexander. I still seem to make people happy.”
Website | www.montyalexander.com
Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/officialmontyalexander
Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/monty.alexander
Twitter | https://twitter.com/montyhke
YouTube | https://www.youtube.com/MontyAlexanderOfficial
Spotify | https://open.spotify.com/artist/30V1rKijENF5MFcGidInfh?si=7u5_PtKcSVC7OGPXqTttnA