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  • Jonathan Widran

TONY MONACO, The Definition of Insanity

Whether it’s truly from Einstein is anyone’s guess, but we’ve all heard the well-worn, wisdom filled phrase that inspired the crafty title of veteran Ohio based Hammond B-3 master Tony Monaco’s latest multi-faceted, soulful and spark filled jam session The Definition of Insanity.

Having survived a recent life threatening health scare has inspired the multi-talented musician and singer – who also plays piano and accordion – to be in the perfect mindset to make everything fun, frolicsome and delightfully disorderly for himself, brilliantly inventive and old schoolin’ guitarist Derek DiCenzo and drummer Tony McClung. The primary way Monaco embodies the title is by changing his usual approach featuring originals to include a free for all, genre-hopping ode to numerous influences.

Yet he’s clever in the way he introduces those. Before some deft, mindblowing nods to jazz masters like Lee Morgan (the spirited, seductive bossa nova flavored “Ceora”) and Jimmy Smith (the frenetic, psychedelic “Root Down” – later popularized by the Beastie Boys), he goes “Phishing” on a spritely roll through that band’s renowned instrumental “Cars Trucks Buses.”

Speaking of eclectic, he wraps the generous 11 track set with imaginative new twists on classics by country legend Floyd Kramer (“Last Date”), The Grateful Dead” (a no holds barred dash through “Truckin’”), Jobim (a reworking of “Triste” that makes it anything but melancholy) and Leon Russell’s gorgeous “A Song For You.” That impassioned closer is a triple threat slice of musical genius allowing us to experience Monaco’s B-3, piano and soulful vocals almost all at once.

He also triples up impressively on “Non Ti Scordare Di Me,” a traditional piece that’s been sung by Pavarotti and Bocelli. Proving he’s game for just about anything, Monaco brings genuine warmth and his gently romantic accordion to his intimate vocal performance. Here’s hoping Monaco stays musically insane – the zaniness suits his artistry well!

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