Tony Marino was born and raised in South Philly, but over the years he has moved from Coast to Coast, including the Midwest. He began playing the piano professionally at the age of 15 and writing, composing & recording original Latin Jazz compositions since the early ’90s. To date, Tony has released 9 CD’s of original songs using various Latin styles of music: samba, bossa nova, frevo, tango, montuno, bolero, bebop, swing, and calypso. On January 12th, 2018 Tony’s newest cd, “Thank You for the Music” was be released. All songs on this album are written by Tony and dedicated to some of his music idols and inspirations – Astor Pizzolla, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Jaoa Donato, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk. Although the extraordinary pianist Tony Marino has made many superb recordings in his career, none is classier than “Thank You for the Music” and it is not simply for the stellar songwriting, but for the unbridled genius of Tony’s understated playing.
The album comes almost a year after another fine album by the pianist – “A Sound Investment” – and many of his admirers might be tempted to prefer one over the other. In reality there is barely a hair line that separates the quality of the two albums and after at least a dozen hearings of both this past week, I will cast my lot with “Thank You for the Music” for just the reasons I mentioned earlier.
This is Latin-inflected Jazz trenchantly proclaimed and carried through in the grand manner. It is also just the reason why Tony Marino’s cheerful, unagressive energy is so impressive. It is the epitome of pianism at its finest; formidable technical expertise and pervasive determination to confront the knottiest musical issues.
Of course the recording is also shaped by the musicians whom Tony Marino has attracted for this project. Involved intensity is the watchwords of this recording. This is uppermost not only in the ethos of Tony’s playing, but is also intensified in the performances of every other musician who shared the stage, so to speak, with Tony here.
Each has helped to raise the stakes differently; each has shaped the music with his own special instrumental rhetoric, used to accentuate the intrinsic force of the recording, also bringing a rhythmically pliable, but expansively shaped musicianship that accentuates the spaciousness of the music.
These songs could hardly have been bettered in any way, shape or form. Each pays tribute to some of Tony Marino’s musical heroes and each is played not just with reverence, but also with a joy that underlines a love of the genre. Best of all, after all the dazzling virtuosity of pianist, horns and percussion is said and done, what remains is music lit from within by a deep, quiet, human warmth.
Of course, a quick listen to standout tracks such as “Mr. Donato”, “Charlie Parker” or “Dizzy’s Moods” and you will discover that Tony Marino is not one to hide his abilities under a bushel. His musicianship is illuminated by superb technique with emotion to match. His playing is harmonically advanced and he makes his lines leap in ecstatic ellipses as befits a great pianistic mind.
His playing also often features mesmeric phrasing, subtle dynamics and choices that come from his personality, enabling him to dispense with the matters on hand with ripe, tumbling notes and chords. All of this infuses this record with a certain memorability that is rare in music of dedication. For these reasons “Thank You for the Music” is an essential recording.