Born: August 14, 1959 Primary Instrument: Organ, Hammond B3
One of the greatest honors in a Jazz Musician's life is to be voted in the Downbeat Magazine Critics polls and readers polls. In 2005, Tony was blessed to be a voted in both polls and in January 2006, he was also voted by Jazztimes Readers as being in the top 4! Not only is Tony proud of these wonderful accomplishments, he is once again, humbled as he realized that these things only happen because of the great gifts that God gave him! The readers polls really touched me because it means that I have gained some respect from my fans and that they dig my playing. Also the fact that they would consider me to be worthy of being included to the list of other great jazz organist who have helped shape me into what I've always wanted to be 'A Jazz Organist'.
Tony started playing the accordion when he was eight years old. When he was twelve, He was given a Jimmy Smith album and instantly knew that Jazz Organ was his calling. Tony began to play in Jazz night clubs around Columbus, Ohio while he was still learning the art of the Hammond B3 organ. He was influenced by hometown Organists such as Hank Marr and Don Patterson. Tony's newfound fascination led him to jazz organ legends Jimmy McGriff, Richard Groove Holmes, Charles Earland, Jack McDuff, and Dr. Lonnie Smith. Here He found an unlimited source of inspiration; he just couldn't get enough!
On Tony's sixteenth birthday, he received a phone call from Jimmy Smith. This was a great honor and really boosted his enthusiasm as an organist. Jimmy Smith continued to give Tony Jazz Organ secrets over the phone while Tony was playing around Columbus. When he was twenty, Jimmy Smith invited Tony to come play with him at his club in Woodland Hills L.A., California. An experience Tony would never forget; Tony finally got to play in front of the master of the Jazz Organ. Tony has also been fortunate to spend some time learning from Hank Marr, Bobby Pierce and Dr. Lonnie Smith.
In April 2000, Tony met Jazz Organist Joey DeFrancesco while Joey was playing in Columbus, Ohio. The two of them became instant friends. Joey recognized Tony's' talents right away and offered to produce a CD for him. Tony was thrilled at this wonderful opportunity. He flew out to Joey's house in Arizona to begin recording the CD Burnin Grooves. Tony recorded with Byron Landham on drums and Paul Bollenback on guitar. He also recorded a few tracks with Joey, who was on either piano or trumpet.
Tony's recording Burnin Grooves sparked international attention. He was featured on Pete Fallico's Internet Radio Program ��Doodlin Lounge' on KUSP, Santa Cruz and KCSM, San Mateo. Pete's recognition of Tony as a jazz organist was very important! Pete is a very well respected advocate and voice for the art of jazz organ.
Tony began expanding his playing to regional and national tours. In 2001, The Tony Monaco Trio performed every major festival and outdoor concert in Central Ohio, including the Jazz and Ribs fest, Comfest, Art fest, etc.. In September 2001, Tony's new CD Burnin Grooves on Summit Records was released nationally. It was reviewed in Keyboard Magazine, Jazz Improv Magazine, Allaboutjazz.com, AMG and did very well in the jazz radio charts and was even placed in the Virgin Records Megaspore Listening Station program across the country! Tracks from the Burnin' Grooves CD were featured in the Jazz Improv magazine CD companion (Fall 2001, Volume 3, Number 3) and Jazzusa.com December 2001 as the Hotest single of the month (Dec 2001).
In February 2002, Summit Records released Tony's second national release titled: Master Chops T. The recording features his trio along with special guests: Sarah Morrow (trombone), Donny McCaslin (saxophone) and Kenny Rampton (trumpet). Tony was featured in the March 2002 issue of Jazz Times with a full page Hearsay written about him by Christopher Porter, along with Neil Tesser in the June Issue of Jazziz and Todd Albright in the August Issue of Downbeat.. Master Chops T, Tony's second national release, climbed into the top 10 on the Jazz radio charts.
Summit Records released Tony's 3rd National release Intimately Live at the 501 October 1st 2002. Intimately Live at the 501 is 74 minutes of killer live Jazz Organ from the Organ Marvel UPI and climbed the Radio Jazz Charts as well. Soon after his 3rd national release Tony began endorsing Hammond/Suzuki Organs, joining his fellow organ mates Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and Joey DeFrancesco! Tony now travels and plays the New B3 organ as his relationship with Hammond/Suzuki has grown. Tony also began endorsing Native Instruments Software Synths, Cakewalk Sonar digital recording software and M- Audio hardware.
In 2003, Tony gave his jazz organ clinic at the 2003 International Association of Jazz Educators in Toronto, Canada. Attended the Winter NAMM show for Hammond/Suzuki, performed at the Illinois State University GLT Jazz concert series as a double bill with the great Ron Carter, performed for the NPR convention in San Diego, played concerts with such names as: Lewis Nash, Red Holloway, Plas Johnson, Sonny Fortune, John Faddis, Mel Lewis, Eric Neymeyer along with many tour dates with his own trio. In September 2003, Summit Records released Tony's 4th National Release A NEW GENERATION. This was a very special release as the recording features Tony's Trio along with Special guests: The Joey DeFrancesco Trio. They both used the New Hammond/Suzuki B3organs playing at the same time on the recording as it pays homage to Jimmy McGriff and the late Richard Groove Holmes in the spirit of their recordings Giants of the Organ series: Come Together and Live at Pauls Mall. Once again Tony's recording climbed the Jazz radio charts as it also received many favorable reviews from Jazztimes, Jazz Improv Magazine, Allaboutjazz.com and many more...
In 2004 Tony has just completed building a new home that sports a very nice recording studio where he recorded his 5th release on Summit Fiery Blues along with recording another Playing Jazz Hammond instructional DVD Part 4 as he has become also known as an educator of jazz organ. He has many students from all over the world. I feel I must give it back in order to keep it!!!!
In 2005, Tony traveled extensively as Fiery blues out sold all of Tony's previous releases. Borders books picked up Fiery Blues as part of a special in store promotion . Tony toured the US, Australia, New Caledonia, and Canada. Returning home in September after a 10 day tour of Australia, Tony recorded his newest CD East to West on his newly formed Chicken Coup Records using Adam Nussbaum on drums and Bruce Forman on Guitar. Chicken Coup, Tony said, is a label for keyboard players . I teamed up with Summt Records as Executive producer, Summit does what they do best and so do I, together we can get keyboard players opportunities that maybe previously were hard to find! In the Summer, Tony performed a jazz organ clinic for Pete Fallicos' J.O.F. (Jazz Organ Fellowship) at the Monterey Jazz Festival Summer Camp. Look in the Spring of 2006 for a new Playing Jazz Hammond (Part 5), which will include the Monterey Clinic and a live concert performed by Tony's band in Columbus. BTW, Once again Tony's name appeared in the Downbeat critics polls!
So far in 2006, Tony has tours in Jakarta Indonesia for the JAVA Jazz Festival, Europe and US. East to West went chartbound in the first 3 days and seated at #20 in its' first full week. Tony's radio promoter Mike Carleson beleives this one could go pretty high up the charts! Already critics are calling East to West Tony's best! Also Tony was voted in as one of the top 4 Jazz organists in the Jazztimes Readers Polls. Chicken Coup has already signed some great organists to join him on the label as Tony is poised to help others as he's always wished for!