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Tony Monaco: The Definition of Insanity

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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The popular quote referenced in this CD's title has been attributed to many—most frequently to Albert Einstein. With this fine offering, organ virtuoso Tony Monaco steers clear of Sisyphean do-overs and delivers eleven diverse and well-performed tracks.

"Cars Trucks Buses" by Phish's Page McConnell kicks the session off with a hefty, "short'nin' bread" B3 cooker. From this slick get-go, Monaco shows he's got A1 jazz chops and his colleagues are right there with him on the trip. Lee Morgan's classic "Ceora" is sent up jazz bossa nova style, with Monaco and guitarist Derek DiCenzo tastefully stretching out. "Root Down," by Monaco's mentor Jimmy Smith, is a funk fest with Monaco, DiCenzo, and drummer Tony McClung digging deep. Monaco shows his own fine pipes and the B3's softer side with a tribute to trumpeter Roy Hargrove on the ballad "Never Let Me Go." Monaco's wife Asako supports her husband on piano.

"Quando, Quando, Quando," one of two Italian tunes on the date, is covered in up-tempo samba style. The other Italian tune, "Non Ti Scordare Di Me" ("Never Forget About Me") is Monaco's vocalized tribute to his mother. Monaco's original "Awa Athar" is an exotic, Middle Eastern-textured tassel- twirler featuring DiCenzo's guitar. Country pianist Floyd Cramer's slip-noted tale "Last Date" and The Grateful Dead's shuffling, gear-grinding "Truckin'" are probably the two most diverse—and in a way hippest—selections. Antonio Carlos Jobim's classic "Triste" and Leon Russell's "A Song for You" complete this ring of dissimilar but well-played selections.

Monaco's playing across this array of tunes is hip, swinging and all A1 appropriate for the rainbow of styles on this session. His jazz chops shine throughout and his work with this team is excellent. In addition to Monaco's fine playing, DiCenzo is outstanding with his wah-wahs, tremolos, and other hip electro-enhancements superbly complementing Monaco's grinding. McClung, an Ohio compadre of Monaco's, shows outstanding versatility across these various unique grooves. The Definition Of Insanity is a solid, fun outing across the board. Irrespective of who quipped insanity's definition, you don't have to be an Einstein to discover that this album is a winner.

Track Listing: Cars Trucks Buses; Ceora; Root Down; Never Let Me Go; Quando Quando Quando; Non Ti Scordare Di Me; Awa Athar; Last Date; Truckin’; Triste; A Song for You.

Personnel: Tony Monaco: Hammond B3 organ, piano, accordion, vocals; Derek DiCenzo: guitar; Tony McClung: drums; Asako Monaco: piano (trk. 4).

Title: The Definition of Insanity | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Chicken Coup Records

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