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Live albums are not for the faint of heart. They often feature musicians playing up to the audience with the knowledge that what they are doing will be on CD for the ages so they play every note and riff they know. Others contain performances that are disappointing, as you realize that the real magic exists for this artist in the studio. Tony Monaco’s trio does neither; they simply play their hearts out while also serving the music they are playing with respect and artistic integrity. That approach makes this a terrific live album.
This outfit is a well-put together organ trio that is reminiscent of Jimmy Smith’s earlier works. Granted, Mr. Monaco is no Jimmy Smith, but he doesn’t try to be. Mr. Monaco is a well-versed musician who displays his expertise at the Hammond B-3 throughout this recording and all sorts of flavors and styles that can be used in this setting.
The trio is manned by the wonderful fretwork of guitarist Robert Kraut and the rhythmic leader and vibe-setter, drummer Louis Tsamous.
This album sits high on the list of quality organ trio recordings. It also contains my second favorite recording of “Take the Coltrane,” second only to the version by its author, Duke Ellington.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.