Monty Alexander – Goin’ Yard
(Telarc – 2001)
by John Barrett
Right away you hear urgency. Both hands assault the low keys; bongos start thumping, and sad chords ring out. Monty Alexander quotes “Better Git It in Your Soul”, then moves to his own tune “The Serpent”, wiggling everywhere with soft notes. It ends in a hurry, and with the applause still warm, Monty launches into “Grub”. His left hand pumps a hard riff; notes from the right are clipped and percussive. Once we hear the bumpin’ bass and the chicken-scratch guitar, we know the party has started. Monty starts boogying, and we hear some Jamaican heat.
It really flares up on “King Tubby’s”, a tune by dub legend Augustus Pablo. Glen Browne dives the bass low, and Dwight Dawes whistles, on a haunting organ. It is he who adds the dub effects … the delay echo runs wild. (If anything, Monty sounds cautious; he tiptoes lightly through the song.) Things turn nostalgic on “trust (sounds a bit like “Chariots of Fire”) and take a gospel bent on “Sight Up!” Monty pours on the warm chords, the drums crash, the organ hums – and the spirit soars.
From a slow beginning, “Hurricane” rises: as Alexander churns the lower keys, the drums go to work. While they thunder, Robert Browne sizzles on guitar – he’s got a buzzing tone and a nervous tempo. Listen close; this storm will beguile you. After “Hope” (another slow mood piece) comes “Exodus” – the movie theme is intertwined with Bob Marley’s tune of the same name. Monty is slow on the opening, as staid as George Winston – and then enter the reggae guitars. The keys are tart, hinting both songs at the same time – and the intensity is slowly notched up. “Skankin’ Lennox” fits a Basie mood to a Kingston rhythm, and everyone shouts “Day-O”, rendered delirious by the infectious piano. Over a hot rhythm bed, Monty starts the theme delicately and unfurls a slew of variations. He’s done his job – the crowd doesn’t want to go home.