Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

Since World War II, the piano-bass-drums trio has been one of the basic performance units in jazz. An artist who popularized this medium was pianist Ahmad Jamal, who featured tightly arranged interplay between the three pieces. Another pianist in the same mold is Monty Alexander.

When Jamal recently canceled his engagement at Blues Alley, it was appropriate that the club called on Alexander to replace him this week. Working with local Steve Novosel on bass and ex-Jamal drummer Frank Gant, Alexander Tuesday night displayed the same concern for form that typifies Jamal.

Actually, this aspect of Alexander's work is more impressive than his own ideas. Most of his phrases have long been heard in the playing of Jamal, Oscar Peterson, Ray Bryant, Herbie Hancock and others. Alexander, though, offsets his lack of originality with a flair for organization and showmanship.

There is plenty of flashy technique in Alexander's work - so much so that he should absorb more of Jamal's sense of economy. In any case, the pianist's music is never less than pleasant, and he pleased the audience with two bluesy 16-bar tunes and two florid ballad interpretations, "Never Let Me Go" and "My One and Only Love."