Caribbean Duet for pianos


Caribbean Duet

Michel Sardaby
Piano Steinway
Monty Alexander
Piano Steinway

"Choc" du Monde de la Musique n°82
Prix "Laser" de l'Académie du Jazz


"Voyage" was the first compact disc recording made by Michel SARDABY for Harmonic Jazz (Records). On it he played alternatively in piano solo and in duo with bassist Ron CARTER.
Now, with Monty ALEXANDER on Caribbean Duet, we are privileged to share the special meeting of these two outstanding pianists and to experience the magical dialogue and interaction between this pair of highly individual jazz stylists.
However the fact that both musicians have their roots in The West Indies means there is, at the same time, a close relationship between Them. On a crisp autumn night in Paris I attended this recording session in the delightful room of The Museum of Modern Art.
It was thrilling to follow take after take and to be a part of the gradual building up of this sumptuous crystalline architecture which is jazz improvisation at its highest level. It was also refreshing to rediscover the true meaning of a word so often hollow and misused : communication.
For more than six hours that night Michel SARDABY and Monty ALEXANDER played together acting as a catalyst on one another. They both inspired and provoked, yet always remained receptive to each others moods; sometimes mysterious and magical, soft and fluid, at others times vivid and colourful and full of energy. They really shared their souls.
I think that for both Michel, from Martinique, and Monty, from Jamaica, the session was particularly happy, taking them back, as it did, to their roots : roots of common tradition and origin, roots that the Yoruba culture spread throughout the entire American continent.
"Caribbean Duet" is an amazing record. Listen to it : concentrate, and you will find yourself, as I was during the recording session, taken over and energised by the sublime spontaneity and fusion which took place during the encounter of these two great musicians. 
Listen to it during an idle moment, without really concentrating, and effortlessly you will find yourself floating and relaxed, bewitched by the subtlety of the music.
It has been a long time since I've heard Monty ALEXANDER play such fantastically inspired music. And as for Michel, I have no doubts, he is the piano's Nicolas FLAMEL, a keyboard alchemist, bent over the 88 keys of his Steinway in quest of the philosopher's stone... an everlasting search.

Patrice Blanc-Francard
Adaptation : Helen Stinson

Michel Sardaby

Pianist - Composer - Music teacher

Pianist Michel Sardaby was born in 1935 in Fort-de-France (Martinique). His Caribbean roots and bebop spirit tell the story of highly respected musician. After graduating from the Ecole Boulle, the highest school for decorative arts in Paris (1956), he graduated from the bebop school of Paris whose masters were no less than Dexter Gordon, T-Bone Walker, Sonny Criss, Kenny Clarke, Ben Webster, J.J. Johnson, Chet Baker, Art Taylor, Jimmy Gourley, Guy Lafitte, René Thomas or Pierre Michelot. His personal discography features unique encounters with Monty Alexander (1984, Carribean Duet) or Ron Carter (1984, Voyage). Trio interplay is his favourite context with the help of carefully chosen rhythm sections such as Percy Heath and Connie Kay (1970, Night Cap), Richard Davis and Billy Cobham (1972, In New York), Richard Davis and Billy Hart (1974, Gail), Rufus Reid and Marvin Smitty Smith (1989, Going Places), Jay Leonardt and Tootie Heath (1990, Night Blossom), Buster Williams and Ben Riley (1996, Plays Classics and Ballads) or Reggie Johnson and John Betsch (1997, Intense Moments). He also favours the quintet, yielding a great recording with Ralph Moore (ts) et veteran trumpeter from Memphis Louis Smith (1992, Straight On). He has recently been working with young Turks from New York such as Robert Dickson (ts) and Derrick Garner (tp). 

His latest albums, Karen (2003, Reuben Rogers and Dion Parson), At Home (2004, Ray Drummond and Winard Harper) and Night in Paris (2005) reflect the mastery and craftsmanship of a poet. A melodic composer, a moving soloist, he relentlessly revisits Ellington, Monk and standard songs that the perfect vehicle for his sophisticated take on the blues. One of jazz’s best-kept secrets.
Today, The Michel Sardaby Trio features one the best rhythm section you can find in Paris with Darryl Hall or Wayne Dockery on the bass and Doug Sides or John Betsch on the drums.


Monty Alexander

In a career spanning five decades, pianist Monty Alexander has built a reputation exploring and bridging the worlds of American jazz, popular song, and the music of his native Jamaica, finding in each a sincere spirit of musical expression. In the process, he has performed and recorded with artists from every corner of the musical universe and entertainment world: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Ernest Ranglin, Barbara Hendricks, Bill Cosby, Bobby McFerrin, Sly Dunbar, and Robbie Shakespeare, among others.
Born on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, he took his first piano lessons at age six, although he is largely self-taught. As a teenager, he witnessed concerts by Louis Armstrong and Nat "King" Cole at Kingston’s Carib Theater. These artists had a profound effect on Alexander’s aspirations. He formed Monty and the Cyclones in the late 1950s and also recorded on sessions with the musicians who would catapult Jamaican music to international recognition as The Skatalites (Bob Marley’s first backing band).
Alexander and his family came to the United States at the end of 1961. Less than two years later, while playing in Las Vegas with Art Mooney’s orchestra, he caught the eye of New York City club owner Jilly Rizzo and his friend, Frank Sinatra. Rizzo hired the young pianist to work in his club, Jilly’s, where he accompanied Sinatra and others. There he met Modern Jazz Quartet vibraphonist Milt Jackson, who hired him and eventually introduced him to former Charlie Parker collaborator and legendary bassist Ray Brown. Alexander recorded and performed with the two jazz giants on many occasions. Jazz’s greatest luminaries welcomed Alexander to their "musical fraternity" in the mid-1960s. Among these earliest enthusiasts for his playing were none other than Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Miles Davis. Monty Alexander’s collaborations span multiple genres, styles, and generations. His projects have been as varied as assisting Natalie Cole in her tribute album to her father, Nat “King” Cole in 1991 (the resulting album, Unforgettable, won seven Grammy awards), performing George Gershwin’s "Rhapsody in Blue" under the direction of Bobby McFerrin at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, and recording the piano track for the film score of Clint Eastwood’s Bird, a movie about the life of jazz titan Charlie Parker.
In August 2000, the Jamaican government awarded Monty Alexander the title of Commander in the Order of Distinction for outstanding services to Jamaica as a worldwide music ambassador.
In Hal Leonard’s 2005 book The Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players of All Time, Alexander was listed among the top five Jazz pianists of all time. - (excerpts)

Steinway Concert Grand D 274



Jamaica Farewell (based on Traditional air arranged by M. Alexander & M. Sardaby)
Yellow Bird (Norman Luboff, Marilyn Keith & Alan Bergman)
Like someone in Love (Jimmy Van Heusen & Johnny Burke)
Nocturne Dance (composed by M. Sardaby)
Fuchsia / Hibiscus* (composed by M. Alexander & M. Sardaby*)
Antony (composed by M. Sardaby)
Happy Talk (Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein)
Macouba (composed by M. Sardaby)
Eleuthera (composed by M. Alexander)


Prix "Laser" de l'Académie du Jazz

Digital Audio & Compact Disc Review, USA

If you'd like to be on a Caribbean beach at night, sipping rum and basking in the moonlight, but you can't afford a vacation, Caribbean Duet and a little imagination might just suffice.
The word for West Indian pianists Monty Alexander and Michel Sardaby is relaxed; they have perhaps the most easy-going rhythmical style I've ever heard.
The first two tracks on the disc are a tribute to the artists' Caribbean heritage. "Jamaica Farewell" is a medium tempo tune, based around the chords of a traditional Jamaican melody. The next cut "Yellow bird" is a brilliant rendition of the perennial island standard.
Although not all of the tracks are of Caribbean descent, they still have that lazy island flavor. "Like Someone in Love", for example, even though played at a very high speed, is still performed as if it were the easiest thing in the world. The other tunes touch on such styles as the bossa nova and the ballad, but there's never a moment of tension or chaos in the music; just pure magic.
As if the fantastic performances aren't enough, Caribbean Duet is one of the cleanest sounding discs I've heard in a long time. The noise level is low, the pianos are miked extremely effectively, and the recording is EQed so that the pianists sound like they're playing in your living room (or beach cabana, as the case may be).
Caribbean Duet is a late-night-jazz-lover's dream come true. And even though there has been a recent resurgence of introspective music, this disc is an alternative to the "New Age Craze": tension-relieving tunes that don't lack musical integrity. - Bjorn Kolsrud 
Performance : 9,5/10 - Sound Quality: 10/10

"Choc" du Monde de la Musique n°82

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