Tony Monaco: Jazz Organ Crusader
Tony Monaco's crusading zeal, however, does not end with his educational endeavors. His goal in the future is to establish a non-profit organization that would secure funding for jazz artists. The type of organization he envisions would be modeled on ventures such as the Central New York Jazz Foundation, the Mama Foundation, and even some aspects of the newly established Lincoln Center for Jazz. Ideally, Monaco would like to see such a foundation run its own jazz club in Columbus, which lacks a full-time jazz club since the demise of the 5:01 Club last year. Such a club would function much like Munich's Jazz Club Unterfahrt.
Although known primarily as a straight-ahead player, Monaco says that he is experimenting with some ideas for stylistic evolution. "The direction I'm thinking about is fusion, but not fusion like in the 70s, said Monaco. "I'd like to incorporate some things from pop, something to attract the kids to jazz. But the organist is also quick to point out that the integrity of the music should never be sacrificed for mere popularity.
Selling jazz in today's media market isn't an easy thing to do, but if anyone can do it, it is probably Tony Monaco, whose enthusiasm could probably make jazz fans out of the Taliban. Although the economic future of jazz, and jazz organ in particular, is a dicey thing at the moment, Monaco is optimistic about the future. He speaks with great enthusiasm about some of the younger players who have been inspired by his example and that of his good friend, Joey DeFrancesco. "There are lots of jazz organists out there, said Monaco, "But two young players I really like are Pat Bianci in Denver and Ken Clark.
If Tony Monaco has his way, the lessons that Jimmy Smith taught him are going to be passed down to the Pat Biancis and Ken Clarks for many generations to come.
Visit Tony Monaco on the web.
Tony Monaco: Master Chops T
Tony Monaco Discography:
Fiery Blues (2004) Summit Records
A New Generation (with Joey DeFrancesco) (2003) Summit Records
Immediately Live at the 5:01 (2002) Summit Records
Master Chops T (2002) Summit Records Burnin' Grooves (2001) Summit Records
Playing Jazz Hammond Part IV DVD
Playing Jazz Hammond Parts I & II DVD
Playing Jazz Hammond Part III (CD-ROM with MIDI files from A New Generation CD)