For over a decade Joey DeFrancesco has reigned undisputed as the king of the new generation of B3 Organ players. The unexpected emergence of Tony Monaco in the past three years has given fans of the Hammond a reason to celebrate the health of the instrument. Not only are the two of them head and shoulders above their peers, they are fast friends and mutual fans of the other.A New Generation: Paesanos on the New B3
is a smoking album for many reasons. The first reason is that Monaco and DeFrancesco pay homage to the "Giants of the Organ" albums recorded by Jimmy McGriff and Richard "Groove" Holmes in the early seventies. Paesanos
respects the frienldy competition of those recordings while giving the two modern-day organ masters a blueprint from which to refer while not coying note-for-note.
The second reason this album is a must is that it announces Monaco's emergence as a songwriter of considerable skill. Monaco loads the album with gems like the white boy funk of the album opener "Pasta Faggiloi" and "Mozzarella", the hectic breakdowns of "Flat Tire", the late night blues of "Katerina's Prayer", and the respective bop of "Aglio e Olio" and cool jazz of "Homily". The songs sound like the result of a musician who's been doing this full-time for years; those who know Monaco's history of personal illness and his family business commitments understand that he's making the most of the opportunity afforded him. It is an opportunity that is not wasted.
The fourth reason I highly recommend this album is that DeFrancesco sounds truly inspired for the first time in recent memory. His signature flourishes and staccato riffing make a perfect foil for Monaco's greasy, flange-laden heavy chording and note bending. He nearly steals the show from Monaco on "Flat Tire" and adds trumpet on "Oh Marie" that would do Louis Prima proud.
Finally, there are the new Hammond/Suzuki B3 organs played by the bandleaders on this album. Built with solid state components and MIDI capable, I can't tell the difference between the new B3 and the monsters played by McGriff, Holmes, and Jimmy Smith. The tones Monaco and DeFrancesco milk out of those Leslies is at once classic and updated for the 21st century.