With Chris Blackwell, Ms. Pat Chin from VP Records, and actor Malik Yoba among those in attendance, Monty Alexander and his band took the stage shortly before 11, dropping into the classic reggae riddim, Bam Bam. Monty brought up DJ Pee Wee to lead the crowd in a sing-a-long, as the band transitioned into a jazzier bossa feel, allowing Monty to set things off with a melodica solo. Throughout the performance, the virtuoso musicians would playfully reference phrases and riffs from other well-known songs, including the traditional Jamaican mento song, “Day-O (Banana Boat Song),” made popular by Harry Belafonte.
Monty demonstrated his love for the music by not only playing but also supporting and encouraging his fellow band members during their own solos. At one point, he stood nodding over the shoulder of upright bassist Hassan Shakur as he soloed an intro into a bass-led hip hop groove, that then received a reggae skank on the rhythm guitar played by Andy Bassford. Shakur morphed his line into the bassline from Chic’s “Good Times,” the Axel Foley theme from Beverly Hills Cop and also the Pink Panther theme, while Monty referenced the 007 theme.