Hammond B-3 player Tony Monaco's music is rooted in a mighty tradition, but isn't stuck there. He can take the B-3 to church, and even into pioneer Jimmy Smith's "chicken shack sound" when he wants, but he is also stretching his sound into something fresh and tasty. Credit that to his own modern twists - with a healthy dose of musical emotion on the side.
None had played together before this concert, a fact that underscored the magic of jazz. There was a freshness of ideas fired back and forth, turning the evening into the true essence of jazz - a swinging musical conversation among the players, which then touches the listeners.
The trio was locked in from start to finish, with Monaco giving Costa and Nicholson plenty of space to add to the creative conversation.
His fine originals included a Smith tribute titled "I'll Remember Jimmy," "Called Love" and the funky "Indonesian Nights," which was a showcase for Nicholson's guitar mastery. In addition to the Smith homage, Monaco played a Jack McDuff-style blues in the key of G. Later, he saluted a fellow Columbus, Ohio B-3 native with an exploration of Don Patterson's "Goin' to Meeting."
They also also honored the the rich B-3 and jazz guitar combination with a fine reprise of Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery on Wes's "OGD" (Road Song) from Further Adventures of Jimmy and Wes (Verve, 1969).
Monaco took the audience to church with a bit of "Amazing Grace" before the break, and a with an extended exploration of Oscar Peterson's jazz standard "Hymn to Freedom" at night's end.
The latter was a welcome musical balm for the audience amid all that's going on in the world today.
|Tony Monaco, LaRue Nicholson, Rick Costa