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Sometimes, you hear a concert that reminds you why it is that music is so important, so fundamental to the human experience.

That’s how I felt Friday night when I saw the Tony Monaco Trio, part of the Charleston Jazz Series offerings for 2008-09. Listening and watching Tony play music is like watching joy – interpreted through the Hammond B-3 Organ.

Tony Monaco's B-3

Tony Monaco's B-3

I’ve always dug the sound of a B-3. It’s a fat, distinctive sound that is at home in church – and maybe on a trip to Venus.

What I heard the other night though, was a delicate sound in the upper register of the instrument. Tony got sounds out the B-3 I simply didn’t expect. The chemistry between he and guitarist Dan Faehnle was palpable. These cats love playing together and it showed all night.

I judge good concerts by different things. A jazz concert is good if I forget where I am. That happened Friday night. I was talking to friends and suddenly realized the trio was still playing their rendition of ‘Mellow Mood’, a George Benson tune.

Benson is best known for the commercial hits ‘On Broadway’ and ‘Breezin’. His style is accessible and the guy has chops on the guitar for sure.

But Tony and Dan took that tune to a different place – it was rockin’ at one point. I think the solos (which were otherworldly) stretched the length of the piece out to at least 10 minutes.

But, nobody cared or noticed because the music was that good.

The other treat was watching Tony play.  The B-3, like all organs is a monster to play.  There are pedals, two keyboards, and faders to deal with.  You have to be very coordinated to play this thing.

Tony Monaco did more than play…he gave all of us a hot shot in the arm – something I personally needed after what seems to be an endless winter.

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