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Title: Stir it Up: The Music of Bob Marley
Artiste: Monty Alexander
It's January and that means 'tis the season for paying homage to the late, great Bob Marley.

One of the things we can look forward to is Tuff Gong's re-release of his entire catalogue but, in the meantime, we can whet the appetite with an array of tributes to the master.

A much appreciated addition to the list is Monty Alexander's Telarc album, Monty Alexander: Stir It Up, The Music of Bob Marley, which is being distributed by Tuff Gong.

"For many years I have wanted to record interpretations of some of Bob Marley's songs as a collection," explains Jamaica's foremost jazz musician.

"There are no words sung on this CD - it is all instrumental - but Bob's melodies by themselves are uplifting and an wonderful to hum, sing, play and to 'stir it up' as we have done in this brew."

The album was recorded at the Avatar Studios in New York in October 1998, using Direct Stream Digital, a then much improved method of converting music into the digital domain.

Dermot Hussey who wrote the liner notes said he was impressed with the 'crack' Jamaican rhythm section of Rolando Wilson (drums), Trevor McKenzie and Glen Browne (bass), Robert Angus (guitar), Desmond Jones (percussions) and Dwight Dawes (keyboards) and their interfacing, rhythmically, with the jazz rhythm section of Derek DiCenzo (guitar), Troy Davis (drums), and Hassan Wiggins (bass) without interruption. It also features guest trombonist Steve Turre.

What impresses me most about the CD is the fact that one globally respected Jamaican is playing the music of his peer. Alexander's deft interpretations have turned these songs into something special. Whatever you missed listening to Bob's lyrics is regained from being able to fully enjoy the beauty of the melodies without that distraction.

Tracks comprise: an over six-minute interpretation of Jammin, Kaya, the evergreen The Heathen, Could You Be Loved, Is This Love, No Woman No Cry, Running Away, Crisis, I Shot the Sheriff, So Jah Seh, a bonus track remix of Could You Be Loved and Alexander's own tribute to Marley, Nesta (He Touched The Sky).

Marley would have been bowled over by the effort.

box.jpgBalford Henry
The Sunday Gleaner