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Tony Monaco: East to West

Jim Santella By

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Launching a new label that remains a division of Summit Records, Tony Monaco honors organist Jimmy Smith and a generation of groove-oriented artists who have followed. His "I'll Remember Jimmy starts off the album: it's an up-tempo, blues-oriented smoker that lets his organ/guitar trio light up the path for all to see and experience. He leads the way with an in-depth rhythmic groove and colorful harmonic colors that capture the original essence.

The rest of the session continues with two more originals and a slate of familiar songs to honor the tradition that Jimmy Smith's "chicken shack sound gave us through album upon album and thrilling concert performances all over the world. Most of us can connect readily and directly with Smith's live appearances and the impact that they've left for eternity.

Monaco fires up all burners for the highly recommended East to West, which may be the organist's finest album yet. Guitarist Bruce Forman and drummer Adam Nussbaum add significant colors and form a cohesive liaison with the organist. Monaco's surging melodic spurts speak with emotions bared as drums provide a multi-textured layer of rhythm, and guitar stands by the organist's side with pearly tones that focus on the blues. In "Roz da' Cat, Forman can be heard telling a convincing story through his guitar. Through their improvised melodic licks, he and Monaco summon impressions of a house cat prancing all over the place in search of its "prey. As usual, the cat brings an abundance of fun to the entire family.

Saxophonist Byron Rooker sits in for several selections, making a significant impact on the organ combo's unique sound. It's one of those things. Take one fiery Hammond organ; combine with like-minded guitar, subtle drums, and a variety of spices; and you get an unforgettable feast that can be enjoyed everywhere.

Track Listing: I

Personnel: Tony Monaco: organ; Bruce Forman: guitar; Adam Nussbaum: drums; Byron Rooker: tenor saxophone (3,5), alto saxophone (6).

Title: East to West | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Chicken Coup Records

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