Duo Pianos: Jean-Michel Pilc and Kenny Werner John Daversa Small Band Groove: Blue George Brooks' ASPADA New Nordic Trio Brian Bromberg Steve Smith John Daversa Lenny White Jean-Michel Pilc Solo Piano, Duo, Trio Gerry Obeirne Steve Smith and Vital Information NYC Edition Leni Stern Dave Weckl Chris Minh Doky's Nomads Steve Gadd Band Mike Stern

Groove: Blue Organ Trio
Tony Monaco (Hammond B3)
Vinny Valentino (guitar)
Steve Smith (drums)

We owe the existence of this modern Organ-Trio to a chance encounter in Indonesia's capital Jakarta in March, 2011. Drummer Steve Smith and guitarist Vinny Valentino decided to go for a nightcap after playing the Java Jazz Festival with their band Vital Information.

As they approached the lounge bar, they heard the sound of a wild swinging electric organ. Wondering “who the hell was swinging that hard on the B3,” they walked in and saw Tony Monaco, an unsung-hero of the instrument. Few people knew Monaco at that time, though he had been promoted by organ legend Jimmy Smith and had spent two years touring with jazz guitarist Pat Martino. Smith and Valentino made their way through the crowd and asked if they could join in. They proceeded to spend the rest of the night jamming together, later joined by festival greats George Benson and Roy Hargrove.

Five months later, fate once again intervened. Smith and Valentino had been booked for Drum Fantasy Camp, an annual drum camp which was being held in Cleveland Ohio. Tony Monaco lived close by in Columbus, a modest 230 km drive away. A spontaneous phone call resulted in a car journey and the three of them playing in Monaco’s home studio.

‘It’s an album straight out of Blue Note’s heyday, a perfect vintage organ trio record,
the kind Jimmy Smith and Grant Green used to make. It’s an outing full of great moments from the barn-burning takes of Monaco’s “I Remember Jimmy” and “Slighshot Blues” to
the soul-jazz romp through : Cherokee” to a Latin-tinged “On Green Dolphin Street”
to the mellow finale, “That’s All.” Smith restlessly but effortlessly shifts the rhythms all across this record, Valentino picks with as much style and class as ever and Monaco dips deep into the Hammond B3 bag of tricks, serving up stabs, swells and repeated phrases without ever sounding trite.”
JazzTimes Steve Greenly August 2016

Steve borrowed a small jazz drum kit from a friend of Tony’s, Valentino plugged his guitar into the only available amplifier and they were off. They worked so well together that they decided to record an album. One and a half days later, the recording was in the can! The album, Groove: Blue, was released on Q-rious records in 2015 and the trio is now available to play selected dates.

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