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A New Generation: Paesanos on the New B3 by Tony Monaco

A New Generation: Paesanos on the "New B3" offers a wealth of advantages to distinguish it from the other CD’s in the retail bin or in the emarketplace.

The informed jazz enthusiast--and I use the word "enthusiast" intentionally because that word normally describes devotees of the Hammond B-3 organ--will note that the CD marks one of the first recording sessions (including Joey DeFrancesco’s Falling in Love Again) involving the new Hammond-Suzuki B-3, a digital product that has gained acceptance from the new generation of organ players.

A New Generation stands out from the crowd because it sets up a B-3 organ "battle" like those of yore between Jimmy McGriff and Richard "Groove" Holmes, or like the ultimate organ "battle"--a quadruple event--involving Charles Earland, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Johnny "Hammond" Smith and Jimmy McGriff in Chicago in 1997.

Listeners will take note of the irrepressible soulfulness of the B-3’s sound that goes right to the hearts of the listeners, either by inspiring dance, prayfulness, joyfulness or closeness in a way that no other instrument can achieve. The spontaneity of the music, which is responsible for its ability to reach listeners so immediately, arises from the spirit of the musicians, and there’s spirit aplenty throughout the CD.

A New Generation: Paesanos on the "New B3" signifies that the future of the Hammond B-3 is very bright indeed, as the essentials of its sound are maintained without the cabinetry of the older organ or the Leslie speakers themselves. It’s appropriate that such a dual session would be recorded by Joey DeFrancesco from Philadelphia and Tony Monaco from Columbus, Ohio. With legends like Shirley Scott and Jimmy McGriff sparking club sessions in Philadelphia and Don Patterson and Hank Marr hailing from Columbus, the meeting of the younger generation of B-3 minds carries on the tradition from both cities.

As evidence of the improvisational nature of the recording, the entire CD was finished in less than three hours as most of the tracks were first takes. With Monaco’s trio grooving out the left speaker and DeFrancesco’s from the right, it becomes obvious that the recording isn’t really a battle in the true sense of the word, but rather a conversation between friends as one responds to the other. Trading phrases or comping behind the other, Monaco and DeFrancesco pick up ideas from where the other leaves off and then embellish it even more. "Flat Tire," your basic blues, commands attention because of the organists’ precise articulation as they play the rapid-fire melody in harmony.

Monaco and DeFrancesco are alike in their unrestrained enthusiasm for the B-3, which comes across even on the recordings. When both trios are merged, the excitement is compounded. As Monaco initially machine-guns notes that DeFrancesco repeats, "Mozzarella" becomes an example of the way that their arrangements are constructed, as they develop successive choruses that keep raising the temperature for a final exclamation. Interestingly, "Mozzarella" is the track on which the New B-3’s ability to electronically bend notes becomes most evident.

In addition to the dual organ work, Monaco and DeFrancesco take on other instruments for some variety, such as DeFrancesco’s muted trumpet work on "Aglio e Olio" or Monaco’s whimsical performance of "Waltz of the Angels" on accordion, his first instrument.

The CD ends with the eternal promoter of the Hammond B-3, Pete Fallico, interviewing both Monaco and DeFrancesco at Steamer’s Café in Orange County, California. This time, though, Fallico gets to promote the New Hammond B-3--hopefully ushing in a new generation of interest in the undying instrument and a new generation of B-3 organ players who incorporate its distinctive sound with greater portability and MIDI capabilities.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Tony Monaco
  • CD Title: A New Generation: Paesanos on the New B3
  • Genre: Soul / Funk Jazz
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Summit
  • Tracks: Pasta Faggioli, Homily, Katarina’s Prayer, Flat Tire, Mona Lisa, Mozzarella, Aglio e Olio, Oh Marie, Waltz of the Angels, Interview with Pete Fallico’s “Doodlin’ Lounge”
  • Musicians: Tony Monaco (New B-3 organ, accordion); Joey DeFrancesco (New B-3 organ, trumpet); Robert Kraut, Craig Ebner (guitar); Louis Tsamous, Byron Landham (drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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