June 17, 2024
Tony Monaco
Intimately Live
at the 501
(Summit – 2002)
by S.H. Watkins, Sr.

I’ve said it before and it still holds true… Tony Monaco is the current king of the swinging B3. His first release, Burnin’ Grooves gave us our December 2001 Hot Single Ashleen. His second release Master Chops T was even hotter, catapulting him into the upper echelon of the rare hand-and-foot organ jockeys. I had the pleasure of witnessing the trio in performance in Long Beach, CA and I’ll testify that as good as the CD’s were, they don’t transmit all of the electricity you get at the live performances. This CD solves all that. From the opening The Cat to the traditional Sweet Georgia Brown Monaco delivers song after song with the same energy and creativity. He takes take the Coltrane and literally flys away with it.

Note that word energy, Tony has some of the fastest feet in the biz, and a left hand to go with it. The bonus track is a grits-and-gravy rendition of Wayne Shorter’s Footprints. This CD was recorded on the spur of the moment in the 501 club during their regular Sunday night gig, and it couldn’t have been planned any better. The trio was at their smoking best that night, the audience the atmosphere and the impromptu nature of the whole thing led to a classic recording. If the Tony Monaco Trio ever comes within driving distance of your town, I’d suggest you go see them. If not, then get the CD and experience the next best thing to being there live with Tony at the 501.

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