2nd Annual Vail Jazz Winter Series presents Tony Monaco Quartet

By Vail Jazz

March 5, 2013– Vail, CO – The Vail Jazz Foundation will continue the 2nd Annual Vail Jazz Winter Series with the Tony Monaco Quartet on Thursday, March 14th .

Tony is noted as one of today’s finest Hammond B-3 organ players on the jazz scene today. Named the top B-3 player for three consecutive years in Downbeat Magazines and Jazz Times Magazine, he will fill the Fitz Lounge at Manor Vail Lodge with a mix of high energy soul and funk jazz along with the blues. “Tony Monaco…crafts a collection of cuts that reveal the depth and versatility of the B-3…Here, Monaco…proves that he…is the sort of high-caliber player who can coax a response, showing off his…incredible range.” – Downbeat Magazine.

Tony started playing keyboard and the age of eight on the accordion. When he was twelve, he first heard legendary B-3 organ player Jimmy Smith and immediately, he knew that the Hammond B-3 was his calling. He played the accordion in nightclubs in Columbus, Ohio as a teenager. However, at the age of fifteen, Monaco contracted a rare disease, neuralgic amyotrophy, similar to polio. Nerves in his right arm, shoulder and triceps were affected first. Six months after his first bout with the disease, it returned to attack his left side. The only treatment available was with large doses of steroids that reduced the inflammation, but did not reduce the immense pain attributed with the disease. Because it was too painful to have the accordion straps over his shoulders, his father bought him his B3 organ. Less than a year after his run in with the disease, on his sixteenth birthday, Jimmy Smith called him and soon became his mentor / teacher, sharing jazz organ secrets with him and instruction over the phone.

A few years later, Jimmy invited Tony to perform at his California jazz club. For many years, Tony ran the family business, Monaco’s Palace Italian Restaurant, while performing in the lounge weekly. He then went into management with Sysco Foods and later with an ad agency. After finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in 1989, Tony returned to the family business, this time as a manager for Monaco Concrete. At the age of 35, Tony was hit with another round with the debilitating disease. This time, it affected his vocal cord and his ankles and forearms. He had throat surgery so he could talk, and to his ankles, so he could walk while assisted by a cane. Despite the limitations he was left with after the disease hit, he continues to perform. While his challenges could have sidelined him from his music career, Tony taught himself to play again, retraining weakened and destroyed muscles through repetition. As a result, Monaco has become the master of the B-3 organ player and masterful performer.

In 2000, he met B-3 organ player, Joey DeFrancesco, who offered to produce a debut CD for Monaco. The international success of the recording became the catalyst for a national tour. He continued to release CD’s and was awarded major endorsements from Suzuki and Hammond, the maker of the B-3. He is an accomplished teacher and has produced a series of instructional DVD’s that have become indispensable for serious organ students. In 2005, he began international tours that have taken him to Australia, New Caldondia, Canada as well as Jakarta Indonesia. He continues to be featured at all of the big jazz festivals in the US.

Monaco, who is affectionately referred to as Master Chops T, says, “I do some traditional organ, guitar, drums, sax-combo blues and shuffles,” Monaco says, “to an acid funk, to a ’60s-ish sidewinder à la funky Austin Powers, to a big band feel vocal of ‘Luck Be a Lady,’ to a smooth journey à la Pat Metheny, to an accordion blues using the organ in back, to a Woody Herman ‘Rhythm’ changes, to typewriter-organ style, bending notes—a secret—to a nostalgic ‘Me & Mrs. Jones’ sung with a horn arrangement similar to the original, to a Caribbean trip on ‘St. Thomas Calypso.”

Tony will be joined by Bob Rebholz on tenor saxophone, Bill Kopper on guitar and Vail’s own Allan Finney on drums. The Fitz Lounge at Manor Vail Lodge will be the “club” setting and the Quartet will perform two sets of music – 7:30 pm and 9:00 pm. Tickets are available for each seating at $20 in advance; $25 at the door. The Fitz will provide a menu for guests who want appetizers, a full dinner or dessert; and have a $10 food and beverage minimum for these performances. Tickets are available at www.vailjazz.org or 970-479-6146.

Now in its 19th year, The Vail Jazz Foundation produces innovative and prestigious educational programs including the pre-eminent Vail Jazz Workshop and Jazz Goes to School, along with the Vail Jazz Festival, one of the nation’s foremost jazz festivals featuring over 150 artists throughout the summer. Vail Jazz focuses on perpetuating jazz music through live performances that showcase the 3 artistry and talent of great jazz musicians, and through jazz education, with a focus on young musicians and young audiences. For more information, visit www.vailjazz.org.