Jazz maestro Monty Alexander to return to Queens for the first time in almost 50 years

Jazz legend Monty Alexander will perform at JPAC on Saturday.
Photo by Joe Martinez

Monty Alexander, a celebrated jazz musician is returning to perform in Queens for the first time in nearly 50 years on Saturday, according to the Jamaica Center for the Arts and Learning, which is presenting his work to kick off the holidays.

The Kingston, Jamaica native will perform “Love Notes” his piano concert at 7 p.m. at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center located at 153-10 Jamaica Ave.

“Known as the ‘home of jazz’, Queens has nurtured some of the greatest jazz legends in history, such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie,” said JCAL Executive Director Cathy Hung. ” This Summer, we started to develop a ‘headliner’ series [that] aims to bring some of the living legends to perform at the community and to continue the history.”

The Jazz Gallery is located in Manhattan and is an international jazz cultural center dedicated to encouraging and facilitating artistic risk-taking, according to Hung.

“We want to bring the vibrant Queens Jazz scene in downtown Jamaica and build an audience for the culture that lives right here,” Hung said.

Alexander, 74, has never forgotten where he came from and infuses his jazz with calypso, reggae, mento, and other island music, and at other times has instilled his repertoire with the American songbook of blues, gospel and bebop in over 70 albums, according to Alexander’s publicist. He is the only jazz pianist to be nominated for a Grammy for Best Reggae album.

During his career, Alexander has either met or performed with the likes of jazz giants Ray Brown, Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra, according to his publicist.

In November, the jazz maestro was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies and in 2,000 her received the Commander of Distinction from the Jamaican Government, according to Alexander’s publicist.

“Looking forward to playing in Queens this weekend,” said Alexander. “My first and only time playing in Queens was quite a long time ago… in the summer of 1969 during the Moon landing. Happy to return 50 years later.”