Four Brothers – Tony Monaco

Four Brothers – Tony Monaco

Label: Chicken Coup

Release date: March 2022

Catalog number: C7029


Four Brothers
comp: Tony Monaco
You Can Always Count on Me
comp: Tony Monaco
Mas Que Nada
comp: Jorge Ben Jor
Jan Jan
comp: Mose Davis
One For Everyone
comp: Kevin Turner
Lush Life
comp: Billy Strayhorn
comp: Don Patterson
My Shining Hour
comp: Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer
Four Brothers Too!
comp: Tony Monaco


Tony Monaco, Hammond B3
Willie B Barthel III, Drums
Edwin Bayard Tenor, Soprano Saxes
Kevin Turner, Guitar


The “organ marvel” returns with arguably his best recording to date -“Four Brothers” captures incredible sound and energy and swings like hell!

Monaco celebrates 50 years in the business on his 12th recording!

No one needs to explain celebrating the first 50 years of his life’s work, especially when his colorful career has earned him an international profile! Furthermore, such a guy might be excused for feeling jubilant upon the release of his twelfth exciting new recording! But Tony has yet more in mind.

“After 50 great years I want to take the opportunity to honor and thank my hometown, Columbus. To find myself recognized as a part of this town’s vibrant musical scene is personally very rewarding to say the least! But this is also my chance to shine a light on one of my major teachers, Columbus’ own Don Patterson, who is not yet fully recognized among this city’s many great Hammond B3 players through the years.”

For this hard-swinging new recording Tony displays his usual unerring instincts by hand picking some of Columbus’ finest talent to join him. Edwin Bayard, saxes, Kevin Turner, guitar and Willie Barthel III, percussion, have lent their considerable individual talents to the maximum collective powerhouse effect Tony’s music demands.

But there’s more to it than the great chops and the musicality! The friendship and conviviality of these sessions are perfectly clear as we listen! Lots of swingin’ cookin’ joy! Your pleasure is guaranteed!

-from the notes written by Vaughn F. Weister



This is the 12th recording for Tony Monaco as a bandleader and it celebrates his half-century in the music business.  At age eight, Tony played the accordion.  But when he first heard Jimmy Smith on the organ, his fate was sealed.  He began working organ gigs in his native Columbus, Ohio while still a teenager. His early mentors were Hank Marr and Don Patterson.  He listened astutely to all the great organists including, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Charles Earland, Jack McDuff and Dr. Lonnie Smith.  At age sixteen, the great Jimmy Smith called him with encouraging words.  Jimmy Smith soon became Tony’s friend and teacher.  Four years after that call, the organ master invited Tony Monaco to come play a gig at Smith’s California supper club.  Once Monaco married, to support his wife and three daughters, like many jazz musicians he worked day jobs and played gigs at night.  After years of honing his craft, In 2000, the super talented organist Joey DeFrancesco offered to produce a debut album on Monaco.  This became a catalyst for touring and Tony finally attained international success.  Summit Records released two more records, charting in Jazzweek’s Top Ten list.  This album promises to follow in those self-same footsteps.  Opening with his original composition and the title of this album, “Four Brothers” the tune slams onto the scene with Willie B. Barthel III kicking the song off on his drum set.  Barthel rolls across the drums and settles into a happy shuffle.  Edwin Bayard joins the party on his saxophone until the spotlight turns to Kevin Turner on guitar.  By the time Tony Monaco enters for his organ solo, the band has laid down a smokin’ hot groove and Tony shines like gold!   Track #2, “You Can Always Count on Me” is another Monaco original composition.  It’s melodic and well-written with a wonderful bridge.  You will enjoy the quartet’s take on “Mas Que Nada” played at an up-tempo pace.  Kevin Turner (guitarist in the group) has penned “One for Everyone,” a very catchy tune, pumped up by Willie’s shuffling drums and enhanced with Monaco’s jazzy organ solo. The quartet’s take on Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,” slows their groove down to unveil the sexy ballad.  Bayard’s saxophone opens this poignant composition with flair and beauty.  A tune called “Brothers-4” is written by Monaco’s mentor, Don Patterson.  Willie B. Barthel III sets the groove at the top of the tune, playing the drums like a melody and inviting Monaco’s organ onto the scene with power and pulse.  This is an album that uplifts the spirit and entertains in a very soulful way.  It celebrates the Columbus, Ohio jazz scene and Tony Monaco’s fifty years of powerful playing.  When he’s not recording or touring, he acts as Executive Producer of the Summit Records subsidiary, Chicken Coup Records.   He has recorded and released CDs for several undiscovered organists around the globe, passing the torch and using his role as educator and mentor to spread and cultivate many new hopefuls to the art of playing jazz organ.  Perhaps he says it best in his press package.

“After fifty great years, I want to take the opportunity to honor and thank my hometown, (Columbus, Ohio) and to find myself recognized as part of this town’s vibrant musical scene is personally very rewarding,” Tony Monaco proudly shines the spotlight on his hometown.

Additionally, he has surrounded himself with musicians who are the cream of the crop on the Ohio jazz scene.  Together, they guarantee the listener an album of fine music for now and into perpetuity.

-Musical Memoirs



There is nothing that is as filling and satisfying as a classic B3 trio with tenor sax, and Hammondmeister Tony Monaco makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich of a band with Willie Barthel III/dr, Edwin Bayrd/ts-ss and Kevin Turner/g. Barthell III is as crisp as Japanese snow peas as he digs into the military march shuffle of the snappy title tune, giving a perfect surface of Bayard’s sole soprano solo on the energetic “Brothers-4”. Monaco is full fisted as he warms the room like a Franklin Stove for Bayard’s bel canto tenor on a gorgeous “Lush Life” and boogaloos on the kinetic shuffle of “Four Brothers Too!”. Turner rides the whip as he gallops like a stallion on “My Shining Hour” and is as bold as a primary color as he sears through the humming Hammond on “Jan Jan”. Rib sticking musical delights.

-George Harris for Jazz Weekly



The current state of recorded music is in flux in ways like it has never been before. Young audiences have fickle tastes and like to pick and choose tracks on streaming platforms. So the idea of an album being a complete and unique entity is a totally foreign idea to many listeners under 30. Nonetheless, the album concept has been integral to jazz listeners from the debut of the long playing record. Imagine the jazz lexicon without Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue (Columbia, 1959), John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965), or Duke Ellington’s Far East Suite (RCA Victor, 1967) and you get the idea.

Some 50 years into his time spent as a professional musician, jazz organist Tony Monaco remains one of the jazz world’s best kept secrets. Part of a thriving and vital jazz scene in Columbus, Ohio, Monaco would probably be better known had he made New York his home base. But for many reasons, he remains in his home environs and has brought his music to the world via his evolving talents in utilizing technology. Be impressed when you realize that Tony has captured this dynamic music by himself in his home studio.

For his twelfth albums as a leader, one might say that he has gone back to the roots and in many ways that is true. This is a true album in the sense that it includes three Monaco originals and a handful or worthy standards programmed sagaciously for good listening. In format and the inclusion of the tune “Brothers-4” it also pays homage to Columbus jazz organ icon Don Patterson. Monaco carries the torch for his generation and hopefully into the future.

The Monaco original “Four Brothers” is heard in two versions and is a classic shuffle brought to life by the drumming of Willie Barthel III. Patterson’s “Brothers-4” is akin to Monaco’s piece in that it is iconic in nature. Barthel’s Nawlins second line groove sparks the flames for a burning performance, with Kevin Turner’s rich guitar comping up front and center in the mix.

Monaco’s version of “Mas Que Nada” is a different beast than the lilting version Americans heard back in 1966 when Sergio Mendes first covered the tune. Barthel stirs the brew into bacchanalian proportions, complete with saxophonist Edwin Bayard blowing groovy tenor saxophone and Turner delivering stinging single-note riffs of his own.

Renowned guitarist Grant Green will always be associated with the deeply funky “Jan Jan,” which can be heard on 1971’s Live at Club Mozambique (Blue Note) and 1972’s Live at the Lighthouse (Blue Note). Monaco and crew change things up with Barthel hitting a solid two and four on the snare. When Bayard comes on with his tenor solo, they shift to swing for variety’s sake. Rarely has what is essentially a one-chord jam sounded so hip.

The highlight of the set is an up-tempo romp on “My Shining Hour,” which finds everyone in peak form. Bayard sits squarely in the tradition of folks like Gene Ammons and Houston Person, but reaches even beyond those benchmarks with fluent passages in the upper register of his horn. Monaco literally pulls out the stops for his blistering solo followed by an equally fired-up string of trading eights.

It’s kind of peculiar how in the classical music realm, reverence for the likes of Bach and Beethoven are still a time honored tradition, while jazz music’s mere reliance on pushing forward seems to suggest to some that its tradition is passé. Nothing could be farther from the truth and Monaco’s efforts here bode well for the continued vitality of the jazz organ combo.

-All About Jazz