In many respects, the ideas that Monty Alexander formed for his last CD, My America,
carry through onto Impressions in Blue.
The differences between the two are the use of Alexander’s trio for Impressions in Blue
while he recruited a number of other instruments, primarily guitarists, for My America.
And My America
includes more of Alexander’s reggae roots, making Duke Ellington’s "Rocking in Rhythm" assume a Jamaican festival sensibility.
Still, both albums celebrate Alexander’s numerous influences, which have been noted on other albums as well. Some of those influences includes Nat Cole, of course Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and, yes, Roy Rogers, whom Alexander met way back when. Impressions in Blue
is organized into segments, though, as, for example, "Jumpin’ at Capitol," "It’s Only a Paper Moon" and "Body and Soul" represent Nat Cole’s musical spirit that infused Alexander’s technique. To approximate the sound of Cole’s trio, Alexander brought in fellow Telarc recording artist John Pizzarelli to handle the guitar work. The same sense of relaxed swing with block chords, strumming and matured improvisation ensues.
For an arresting attention-getting start of the CD, Alexander chose George Gershwin’s "Rhapsody in Blue," renamed "Blue Rhapsody." While Alexander follows the chart fairly closely at first, of course that kind of ordinariness can’t for long. After the dramatic introduction, Alexander breaks into the foot-tapping infectiousness that is a part of all of his music. And the track remains in that vein until the end.
Second 2 consists of some of Ellington’s compositions, "Come Sunday," "David Danced" and "Creole Love Call," of course adapted to Alexander’s inimitable style. Second 3 features all Monty Alexander compositions, each one intended to evoke the spirit of Caribbean islands, including his native island home of Jamaica. And Alexander ends the CD with his tribute to the attitude of freedom and adventure that he found in America and embodied in the style of Roy Rogers on "I’m an Old Cowhand," played with reverence and a sense of fun in a light swing.Impressions in Blue,
another in a long list of Monty Alexander CD’s, this time lets him enjoy investigating the tunes of his choice in a trio setting, allowing him to stretch out, to gambol, to entertain and to reminiscence upon the elements that have helped to form his musical persona.