Contact Me By Email

Atlanta, GA Weather from Weather Underground

Jackie McLean

John H. Armwood Jazz History Lecture Nashville's Cheekwood Arts Center 1989

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Tribute to Ray Charles is impressive

Tribute to Ray Charles is impressive: "SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER

Tribute to Ray Charles is impressive

Saturday, March 5, 2005


The genius of Ray Charles came across bright and clear Thursday night at Jazz Alley, when pianist Monty Alexander began a four-night stand paying tribute to the late musician. Combining country chord progressions with bluesy bass lines and gospel riffs, Alexander caught the essence of the Charles style.



WHERE: Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave.

WHEN: Through tomorrow

TICKETS: $20.50-$22.55, 206-441-9729,, Ticketmaster

"I want to offer some personal interpretations of one of the legends of American music," said Alexander, as his trio finished a spectacular version of "I Can't Stop Loving You."

"In Jamaica, back in the 1950s, we heard this music coming from a New Orleans radio station. It influenced everyone in Jamaica."

He followed with a sensitive version of "You Don't Know Me," with drummer Herlin Riley adding slashes of color and accent with his steady brush work. Riley's breaks were stimulating and inventive, giving a nice kick to the ballad.

The opening set began with "Renewal," an original composition from the 1985 release "Threesome." Part ballad and part bop, this lane-jumping fiesta of tempo and style provided a lively introduction to Alexander's versatility. Bassist Hassan Shakur had fun with the tune, managing to slip in the famous riff from Nancy Sinatra's "Boots" at a significant moment.

A more cohesive example of Alexander's original material was "Moonlight City," a reggae-influenced piece that evoked the exotic criminality of Jamaica's vice-riddled back alleys where tourists are not supposed to go. The drums sustained a musical tension with a threatening insinuation that sounded like the tapping of knives on the rail of a bar.

Tenor saxophonist Red Holloway joined the trio for the second half of the set, beginning with a fast and easy stroll through the changes of "Love for Sale." Holloway's tone is so sweet that there is romance in his sound even when he is only running scales.

"Night Time Is the Right Time," a lackluster blues from the early '50s, failed to ignite, but "Georgia on My Mind" gave the saxophonist room for his expressive style to take root.

"I'm gonna give you some lyrics, and I want you to sing," Holloway told the crowd, setting them up for the call and response of "Keep Your Hands Off Her." As a vocalist, Holloway tended toward good-natured clowning. When he put the horn back into his mouth, he was a fireball. Alexander nearly stole the song with a clever one-note solo.

The tribute to Charles continues, with two shows a night, through tomorrow.

Bill White is a Seattle-based arts and entertainment writer. He can be reached at

No comments:

Post a Comment