Amanda Monaco
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Amanda Monaco


Band Jazz Avant-garde


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"Press Quotes"

“Playfully restive compositions.”
- The New York Times

“Amanda Monaco may very well be a musicaholic...she may also very well be one of the truly unique voices in twenty-first century jazz.”

“A cliché-free, inventive player who doesn’t neatly fit into any of the usual modes of contemporary jazz guitar playing.”
- Jazz Times

"Impressive chops and a penchant for adventure."
- Time Out New York

“…a serious multi-faceted composer capable of complex compositions and differing personas…”
- All About Jazz-New York

“Monaco combines patience, an ear for texture, and an introspective, intellectual feel.”
- Downbeat

“Monaco plays with a very nice clean tone, and her dry sound complements a patient, often very elaborate phraseology…”
- Cadence

“Amanda Monaco's compositions take some time to absorb; consider them to be a multi-course gourmet meal for a jazz fan's ears, rather than the all-too-common bland, empty calorie fast food that attempts to pass for creative improvised music.”
- All Music Guide

“...a spirited, dedicated guitarist and composer whose creative reach extends through and beyond the jazz idiom. She has remained loyal to the true nature of jazz improvisation by telling great stories on her instrument; her mature phrasing and emotional power are striking.”
- David Tronzo, Berklee College of Music

“Amanda is certainly carving her own space in New York as an energetic creative musician. She is highly respected for her excellence as a creative jazz improviser and performer.”
- Rufus Reid

“Through her musicianship and cooperative spirit, Amanda has garnered the respect of her peers and mentors.”
- Steve Wilson
- Various

"Review of "Intention""

Amanda Monaco's second outing as a leader is chock full of thoughtful, provocative compositions rendered with strong conviction and fueled by a sense of group discovery...Monaco is a cliche-free, inventive player who doesn't neatly fit into any of the usual modes of contemporary jazz guitar playing. - by Bill Milkowski (Jazz Times)

"Review of "Intention""

The midrange frequently offers more interesting textures, colors and possibilities in improvised music, precisely because it is sometimes a music that’s, even to the initiated, thought of as an art form that embraces the extremes. But for every
John McLaughlin or Wes Montgomery, there is a Joe Morris, an Attila Zoller, or an Amanda Monaco.

Guitarist, composer and educator, Monaco’s music is unassuming but complex free bop, and hinges mostly on the situations she has set up for her longtime quartet, with reedman Jason Gillenwater, drummer Jeff Davis, and bassist Fraser Hollins (recently replaced by Sean Conly).

A review of her first disc, Amanda Monaco 4 (Genevieve Records, 2004), suggested a tentativeness. Intention is more fully realized—that is, while being judicious with its firepower, the group occupies a narrow range of gauzy shading, delicately atmospheric but entirely forward-moving, dark and often coiled in its unadorned improvising. All but one of the tunes on this disc are penned by Monaco. Gillenwater contributed the fierce “Resolution Lift,” predominately a tenor and drums duet. There is a woody flavor throughout the disc, though it’s probably most apt for the suitely-arranged “Tel Aviv I Love Her” and “Procrastination,” both featuring Gillenwater’s Klezmer-inspired clarinet tone, rising from traditional reverence to shrill harmonics in a few blinks.

Monaco’s guitar language has become grungier on this disc. On the aforementioned “Procrastination” she makes use of muted fuzz and explosive, rock-inspired chords to give the undertow a necessary shove. “Old Skool Flava” was initially penned as a tongue-in-cheek blend of jazz and hip-hop, its knotty theme tugging away at a persistent backbeat. Gillenwater and Davis are digging heels almost from the outset, the tenorman’s tone and phrasing is a firey complement to Monaco’s snaky and tense rhythmic devices—she’s liable to hang as much behind the beat as imply it, searching out dissonances where one might expect a bit more sonic resolution. Even on out-and-out swinging modal numbers like “Deadlines Looming,” there is more than a share of freedom. Monaco, rather than traditional comping, futzes with the chordal and melodic nature of the instrument, both behind and in front of Gillenwater’s tenor in subtle envelopment that keeps the saxophonist on his toes. Davis and Hollins are certainly no slouches either, able to expand on the plasticity of Monaco’s rhythmic work and keep things moving at a tense pace.

”Intention” this CD surely displays, but the biting ambiguity that characterizes the quartet’s playing and Monaco’s writing perhaps makes for a curious part of the equation. - by Clifford Allen,

"Review of "Intention""

Amanda Monaco may very well be a musicaholic. In addition to playing and recording, Amanda is also a professor of music, teaches jazz on the web site WorkshopLive, and writes books. She may also very well be one of the truly unique voices in twenty-first century jazz...Her approach is subtle and seemingly distanced from the pack in terms of her overall style of playing guitar. Moody and slightly creepy, Intention is a peculiar album that becomes more perplexing with repeated spins... -

"Review of "amanda monaco 4""

by Bruce Gallanter

AMANDA MONACO 4 - self/titled (Genevieve Records 30601) Featuring Amanda on guitar & compositions, Jason Gillenwater on tenor sax, Fraser Hollins on acoustic bass and Jeff Davis on drums. I've become a friend of local jazz guitarist and teacher Amanda Monaco over the past few years and I'm pleased to report on her fine new debut release. I am unfamiliar with the other members of her solid quartet, but it seems she has chosen them wisely. "d." swings hard and quick and has an infectious instantly memorable theme, Amanda has rich, round tone with no distortion to clutter her sound. Both her bassist and drummer take short intense solos, an
interesting choice for an opening tune. "ring-a-ling" has an exquisite melody and I dig the way Amanda plays with the song with such restraint while the drummer spins quickly beneath. On "gaza strip mall", she balances beautifully between single notes and well placed chords telling a story with her solo, the explosive rhythm team burning below an inspired tenor solo. "quickie" has one of those Masada-like middle-eastern melodies and both the guitar and sax take great solos which start slowly and build to strong conclusions. "go lightly" is aptly titled as it has a dreamy, haunting theme, with a fine lyrical bass solo and tasty tenor solo. The closing tune is "huunuu" and the rhythm team do a spirited job of spinning and pushing both soloists higher as they tell their short story-like solos. A most impressive debut from a fine new jazz quartet. If this were on the Fresh Sounds label, no doubt the NY Times would give it a nice review, or maybe WBGO will give it a spin. Who knows stranger things have happened to less deserving debuts.
- Downtown Music Gallery



- I Think I’ll Keep You (LateSet Records, 2009)

- Playdate featuring Wayne Escoffery (Posi-tone Records; scheduled release Spring 2009)

- Intention (innova recordings; 2007)

- amanda monaco 4 (genevieve records; 2004)


- Vipassana
Joe Phillips's Numinous + (innova recordings; to be released in 2009)

- Open Window
Mike Cohen (Mike Cohen Music; 2006)

- Soul Force
Noah Baerman (Lemel Records; 2003)

- Teki-Yah: The High Holy Days
Congregation B'nai Jeshurun (2002)

- Halailah Hazeh: The Music of Pesah
Congregation B'nai Jeshurun (2001)



A student of Ted Dunbar, Gene Bertoncini, and Adam Rogers, playing guitar has led Amanda Monaco to perform at the Blue Note, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Birdland, Tonic, Joe’s Pub, and the JVC Jazz Festival, as well as other venues in the United States and Europe. Amanda has recorded several CDs as both a leader and a sideman, and has shared the stage with musicians such as Milt Hinton, Norah Jones, Steve Wilson, Ada Rovatti, Michael Blake, Michael Sarin, Ed Schuller, Harvie S, Michael Jefry Stevens, and Matt Wilson. As an educator, Amanda has served on the faculty of Berklee College of Music, New School University, and the National Guitar Workshop; has recorded fifty jazz guitar instructional videos for the innovative web site WorkshopLive; and is the author of Jazz Guitar for the Absolute Beginner (Alfred Publishing). Amanda received a B.M. degree from William Paterson University in 1996, and a M.A. from The City College of New York in 2008.

BabySue calls Amanda "a musicaholic... she may also be one of the truly unique jazz voices of the 21st century." Her second CD as a leader, Intention (Innova Recordings, 2007) has been described as "chock full of thoughtful, provocative compositions rendered with strong conviction" (Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes). Projects as a leader/co-leader include her post-modern (yet quieter than the name suggests) group Deathblow with saxophonist Michaël Attias, bassist Sean Conly, and drummer Satoshi Takeishi, her swinging quintet, Playdate, which includes saxophonist Wayne Escoffery and pianist Noah Baerman; and her quartet am4. As a sideman, Amanda works with the composer/arranger Joe Phillips and the bandleader JC Hopkins, among others.