This Saturday at 5 and 8, the summer-long series Jazz Experience at the Lesher Center continues with the Monty Alexander Trio. The Jamaican-born pianist has spent decades playing with and for some of the biggest names in Jazz and popular music, including Frank Sinatra, Milt Jackson and Ray Brown. He was inspired by live performances of Louis Armstrong and Nat “King” Cole.

There’s more information about the performances at the Jazz Experience at the Lesher Center website.

“The first person that really hit me with this amazing impression was Louis Armstrong, who I saw in person when I was quite young in Jamaica,” Alexander says. “I saw both Armstrong and Nat Cole, and that must have done something to my vision for the future, because I wanted to play music more and more. Because when they played, they made everyone feel good. And that’s kind of what I do, or try to do these days.” He believes in playing for himself and his fellow musicians as much as the audience. “There’s a certain mission that we’re on with whatever piece of music I’m playing… you want to strike a kind of an understanding that we’re going for this marvelous adventure. And I’ve got guys with me, joining me in that adventure. And it’s like they say, “OK, Monty, let’s ride. We’re going up the trail together. We’re going to have a great time doing this thing.” He says at the heart of that kind of collaboration is mutual trust, but it’s also respect – and the desire that everyone flourishes. As a one-time electric bass player himself, Monty Alexander is the rare keyboard player who fills in a bass line with his left hand when the bass player solos. “When I used to play a lot with the great Ray Brown, the bassist, he loved that I would give him this rhythm. Because I feel when I’m playing that we’re all here to support each other, and when he’d be playing a bass solo, I would do for him what he did for me.”