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Tony Monaco Trio with the Joey DeFrancesco Trio: A New Generation: Paesanos on the New B3

Fans expecting a duel between organists Tony Monaco and Joey DeFrancesco will find this album more of a love feast. In addition to the organists’ Italian-American heritage, both play the new, digital-technology Hammond B3, which has replaced its vacuum-tube predecessor, the standard among jazz organists until it went out of production in 1974. The new B3 reproduces the sound of the earlier model almost perfectly.

DeFrancesco, who revived jazz-organ playing in the 1980s may be appearing here to help spread the message about the lesser-known Monaco. Monaco, who has three other trio albums out on Summit, holds his own without letdown against the younger DeFrancesco. In fact, it’s difficult to separate the two on this album. The pick of the performances is Monaco’s “Katarina’s Prayer,” a slow gospel number in 6/8. This is almost as sanctified as you can get outside an actual church service. “Mona Lisa,” the only pop standard on the album, gets a swinging, Count Basie-style treatment. Monaco’s “Flat Tire” gives the trios a hot tempo to contend with, and on “Waltz of the Angels” he straps on the accordion for a trip back to the old country.

Monaco’s trio includes guitarist Robert Kraut and drummer Louis Tsamous. DeFrancesco’s includes guitarist Craig Ebner and longtime drummer Byron Landham. Everyone cooks expertly on this soulful trip home.

Originally Published