What is this jingoistic crap?
That was my first thought when I saw this CD. Here’s Monty Alexander, a Jamaican!, with this red, white, and blue extravaganza — replete with cowboy, flag, Mt. Rushmore, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Here’s a man who’s made a formidable reputation for himself by fusing Caribbean music with jazz, and now he’s on the bandwagon. In all honesty, I thought it was just a cheap ploy to sell CDs in these troubled, ultra-patriotic times (like, say, Paul McCartney’s “Freedom”).
But the kitsch on My America is admittedly infectious. Despite yourself, you find a smile creeping across your face and a slight boogie does get into your bones as Alexander (along with Freddy Cole and John Pizzarelli) takes those subtle reggae riddims and tastefully injects them into a wide variety of American standards — from “Don’t Fence Me In” to “Mack The Knife,” “Sexual Healing,” and the delightfully baffling calypso-gospel-blues version of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Even his “Sex Machine” is a multi-culti funk de force.
In all honesty, only Monty Alexander could’ve pulled this one off. Only he would’ve had the temerity to try it and the skill to make it work. While I don’t know if it can make one feel particularly patriotic, it does make you feel damned good about the music this country produces.
Telarc Records: http://www.telarc.com