Tony Monaco was born on August 14, 1959 in Columbus, Ohio and began his musical journey learning to play the accordion when he was eight years old. At 12 he heard a Jimmy Smith album and instantly knew that jazz organ was his calling. He began playing jazz in nightclubs around his hometown while learning the art of the Hammond B3 organ and gleaning from influences Hank Marr and Don Patterson. This led him to Jimmy McGriff, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Charles Earland, Jack McDuff and Dr. Lonnie Smith.
On his sixteenth birthday Jimmy Smith called him, a friendship was struck and Smith began giving him jazz organ secrets over the phone. Four years later Jimmy invited Tony to come play with him at his club in Los Angeles, California. This would lead to future introductions and study with Hank Marr, Bobby Pierce and Dr. Lonnie Smith. At the turn of the century he met Joey DeFrancesco when he was playing Columbus and the two of them became instant friends. Recognizing Tony’s’ talents right away, he offered to produce a CD for him and Burnin’ Grooves was born with drummer Byron Landham and guitarist Paul Bollenback. He also recorded a few tracks with Joey, who was on either piano or trumpet.
Into the new millennium Monaco began performing every major festival and outdoor concert in Central Ohio as Burnin’ Grooves gained attention. He went on to release his sophomore project on the Summit Records label titled Master Chops T with his trio and trombonist Sarah Morrow, saxophonist Donny McCaslin and trumpeter Kenny Rampton. This he followed with his third project Live at the 501, began endorsing Hammond/Suzuki Organs and conducting his jazz organ clinic at the 2003 International Association of Jazz Educators in Toronto, Canada. He has played concerts with Lewis Nash, Red Holloway, Plas Johnson, Sonny Fortune, John Faddis, Mel Lewis, Eric Neymeyer among others.
Organist Tony Monaco has been voted in the Downbeat Magazine Critics and Readers Polls as well as voted by Jazztimes Readers Poll as being in the top 4 organists. He has released a dozen albums and continues to record, tour and perform worldwide.
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David Binney was born on August 2m 1961 in Miami, Florida and was raised in Carpenteria, California. Through his parents love of music he grew up listening to albums by John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, and Jimi Hendrix. He took saxophone lessons in Los Angeles, California and at nineteen moved to New York City and studied with saxophonists George Coleman, Dave Liebman, and Phil Woods.
With a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts he recorded his first album, Point Game in 1991 on the Owl label, that led to him starting his own label, Mythology Records before the turn of the century.
He has been of several bands, including Lost Tribe, Jagged Sky, Lan Xang, the Gil Evans Orchestra, the Maria Schneider Orchestra, and Medeski Martin & Wood. Binney has also worked with Adam Rogers, Alex Sipiagin, Ben Monder, Ben Perowsky, Bill Frisell, Bobby Previte, Brian Blade, Cecil McBee, Craig Taborn, David Gilmore, Edward Simon, Eivind Opsvik, Jacob Sacks, James Genus, Jim Black, Jim Hall, Kenny Wollesen, John Escreet, Leni Stern, Lonnie Plaxico, Mark Turner, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Nate Wood, Scott Colley, Steven Bernstein, Thomas Morgan, Tim Lefebvre, Uri Caine and Wayne Krantz.
Alto saxophonist and composer David Binney has recorded more than two-dozen albums as a leader, has recorded a half-dozen as a sideman, currently resides in New York City and continues to compose, perform and record.
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Stanley Jordan was born July 31, 1959 in Chicago, Illinois and when he was six, he started on piano, then switched to guitar at eleven. He began his career playing in rock and soul bands, however in 1976, he won an award at the Reno Jazz Festival. AIt was while attending Princeton University that he studied music theory and composition with Milton Babbitt, computer music with Paul Lansky, and performed with Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie.
In 1985, Bruce Lundvall became president of Blue Note Records and Stanley was the first person he signed. They released his album Magic Touch, which sat at No.1 on Billboard ‘s jazz chart for 51 weeks, setting a record. He has worked with Quincy Jones, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Michal Urbaniak, Richie Cole, The Dave Matthews Band, The String Cheese Incident, Phil Lesh, Moe, and with Umphrey’s McGee, among others.
A favorite at festivals he has played Kool Jazz Festival, Concord Jazz Festival, and the Montreux International Jazz Festival to name a few. He has released fourteen albums as a leader, another seventeen across musical genres as a sideman, released three videos, more than a dozen television appearances, has written seven papers and presentations on guitar and technique, and has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award and four Grammy Awards.
Guitarist Stanley Jordan, whose technique involves tapping his fingers on the fretboard of the guitar with both hands, has appeared in the film Blind Date with Bruce Willis and Kim Basinger, has scored short film and tv specials and continues to compose, perform and record.
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Randy Bernsen was born on July 15, 1954 in Needham, Massachusetts. He began his professional career in the mid-1970s , playing guitar with local groups. He collaborated with the rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears on their 1977 tour, where he was second guitarist alongside Mike Stern until he left the band.
Randy went on to work with Jaco Pastorius, Herbie Hancock, Bob James and Peter Erskine. His debut album as a leader came in the form of Music for Planets, People & Washing Machines on the MCA , label in 1986, that received critical acclaim from Down Beat and Guitar Player.
1987 saw Bernsen releasing his sophomore project Mo ‘Wasabi with Wayne Shorter, Michael Brecker, Marcus Miller, Steve Gadd, Toots Thielemans and Bobby Economou supporting his effort. Once again he received great praise from among others, JazzIn and USA Today. His third MCA project however did not hold up to the standard.
Spending some time touring Asia and composing TV music, he settled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and then joined Joe Zawinul’s band in 1992, replacing Scott Henderson. This move gave him the opportunity to record of Zawinul Syndicate’s Lost Tribes album.
Picking up a house gig at a Fort Lauderdale club resulted in Bernsen’s next CD in 1997 titled Live at Tavern 213, that featured excellent improvisation by the guitarist, bassist Pete Sebastian and drummer John Yarling. This led to a Mexico tour in 1998 with violinist/vocalist Nicole Yarling, saxophonist Richard Brookens, bassist Javier Carrion, and drummer Archie Pena that ultimately yielded Bernsen’s 2001 CD Live in San Miguel de Allande. Performing with his own band, recording 6 albums as a bandleader, guitarist Randy Bernsen continues to pursue his music career.
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Koby Hayon was born June 5, 1972 in Jerusalem, Israel and studied guitar at the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in Tel Aviv. While there he gained experience as a guitarist with the DGK Trio, Hulon Big Band, and many other notable groups.
Moving to the United States in 2001, he earned his BFA in Jazz Performance at SUNY Purchase, was a recipient of the Ullendorff Memorial Foundation Scholarship, and studied with John Abercrombie, Hal Galper, Todd Coolman, and Jon Faddis. In 2009, Hayon formed the Koby Hayon Jazz Trio. With bandmates Kermit Driscoll and Jerome Morris, he fuses his heritage with his vast musical training by performing classic Israeli songs in a jazz setting, as well as his own compositions. In addition he is part of Trio Shalva with pianist Assaf Gleizner and percussionist Nadav Snir-Zelniker.
As a sideman, Hayon has performed and toured throughout Western New York and Canada, playing and recording with countless bands, from Dixie/Swing Band, led by the legendary Sol Yaged, to playing alongside bassist Bill Crow and with various bands playing traditional Israeli music.
In addition to playing live music where he can be heard regularly at the 55bar, Cornelia St. Cafe, Watercolor Cafe, Birdland and other reputable New York clubs. Hayon is the musical director of “Nigunim – A Festival of New Improvised Jewish Music” and through his efforts, the festival became a recipient of the Arts Project Grant from Westchester Arts Council.
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