Tony Monaco Trio

Master Chops "T"

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Like his first album for the Summit label, Hammond B-3 organist and vocalist Tony Monaco opts for a play list dominated by his own compositions. But unlike the earlier release, he adds a front line of horns to his trio, plus he plays accordion as well as organ. But it's on the last instrument where Monaco makes his mark. While he draws upon his predecessors on the organ from Jimmy Smith to Groove Holmes for inspiration, he is putting his own imprimatur on the B-3. Monaco, as much as any of his peers, past and present, can offer the organ in a multiplicity of musical settings demonstrating that the instrument can be more flexible than it is often offered. He doesn't push himself into a rut with just one sound. He's joined by the Hal Singer R&B-like sax of Donny McCaslin on a chitlin and red beans treatment of "White Dude Special." A little later, Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas" gets a full calypso treatment with meaningful give and take between Monaco's lilting organ coupled with amazing work on steel drums by Derek DiCenzo. Latin beats seem to be favored, both as a dominant or minor theme on such cuts as "Acid Wash," featuring Kenny Rampton on trumpet. Latin is the major motif on "Ya Bay BEE," with Rampton's trumpet becoming a bit cheeky as he works with a funky Monaco organ and a clean sounding DiCenzo guitar. Of the five Monaco originals, this one stands out as the most frolicking. Monaco and group swing boppishly on Woody Herman's "Apple Honey," with each horn player getting full solo play. The CD title, Master Chops T, is not self aggrandizement, but an accurate reflection of where Monaco stands with his organ playing and all around musicianship. Recommended.

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