Aug 11, 2012

Tony Monaco at Dana Street Roasting Company

Well, I'm definitely a Tony Monaco fan. He really is one of the great B3 organists. Patricia and I caught the show last night at Dana Street Roasting Company in Mountain View. When Tony is in town, he uses local players - this time his trio included Jack Tone Riordan on guitar and Brandon Etzler on drums. It's obviously a heads-up gig for these guys to play with Tony, and they did just fine. Jack had the appropriate mix of blues and bebop, and was quick on the uptake when Tony threw him new changes. Brandon anticipated Tony's kicks with amazing acuity.

Tony has played several gigs at Dana Street over the last few years, and it's great to be able to see him right here in little old Mountain View. Nick, who runs Dana Street Roasting Company, deserves big thanks for setting up the gig. Dana Street has jazz regularly on Fridays and Saturdays featuring local players, and from time to time hosts more prominent artists (Charlie Hunter will be appearing in December).

Here is the set list. Most of these were probably unrehearsed, called on the spur of the moment:

Set 1: 
Road Song
I Can't Give You Anything But Love
Slow Down Sag (original)
Polka Dots and Moonbeams
There Is No Greater Love
Set 2:
Body and Soul
Indonesian Nights (original)
Bb Blues (slow, gospel-style)
The Champ
Original Ballad (introduced as "a song I wrote about love")
A few observations about Tony's style: 
A vast vocabulary of B3 sounds and techniques
An extremely vocalistic approach to soloing, both tone and notes
Very funky, but with great bebop chops
He likes long tags that often constitute a musical journey in themselves
As he was playing "Polka Dots," I was thinking that Tony's textures were kind of orchestral. After he finished the tune, he said "I like to play ballads on the organ, because it's like a big orchestra."

Tony's recordings are great, but not even close to the live gigs. He works with the moment.

He can get pretty intense. As a friend who is an organist put it, "What an emotional torrent that guy is. I compare listening to him to drinking from a firehose." (Thanks for the quote, Randy!)

Tony will be appearing today (Saturday) at the San Jose Jazz Festival, at 3 PM, link here. Tomorrow (Sunday) he'll be at Bach Dancing and Dynamite in Half Moon Bay, at 4:30, link here.

Tony's website is here.

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