Monty Banks On The Road
(Check blog for most recent updates)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - September 2006:
The Arizona Room Piano Bar
PHOENIX, AZ - June / July 2006
The Arizona Room Piano Bar
Cafe La Bella
Kazemier's Wine Bar
NEW ORLEANS - May 2006
(Check blog for most recent updates)
PHOENIX, AZ - April 2006
Renewed contract with Casino Arizona, which starts in late May.
Improvised jazz with Sonorous, a very cool improvisational jazz ensemble, at Kazemier's Wine Bar (Scottsdale, AZ), the Scottsdale Art Walk, the Lost Leaf Gallery (Phoenix, AZ), and Monroe's Downtown.
I had a great time playing saxophone for Ellisha's fire and belly dancing company, at Phoenix Symphony Hall, Camelback Mountain Music Festival, and various locations sponsored by Downtown Phoenix Business Association (Copper Square Partnership - Director Dr. Steven Strange)
Led Monty's Jazz Workshop with Phoenix's best musicians, wednesdays at Monroe's Downtown, and at the Lost Leaf Gallery.
Caught up with my Phoenix friends...
Now packing for another couple weeks in New Orleans before restarting at Casino Arizona's piano bar. I'm looking forward to playing with my favorite New Orleans musicans, and learning a lot more about jazz. They really know how to play music in the town where jazz was born!!
The stars are shining brightly, tonite!
PHOENIX, AZ - Monday, April 17, 2006
New Schedule: New Orleans, Cruise Ships, and Casino Arizona !
April 18 - Norweigan Star - Cruising the Mexican Riviera
May 9 - New Orleans
May 30 - Piano Bar - Casino Arizona
NEW ORLEANS - Sunday, March 19, 2006
I just played Bourbon Street !!!
Wow! St Patty's Weekend was an awesone event in New Orleans.
My new "project," The Odd Man Band packed out the ampitheater in front of Jackson Square in the French Quarter, We had between 2 and 3 hundred people dancing like maniacs, and going crazy. What a great experience!!
Saturday I played an opening set at Chris Owen's Club, on Bourbon Street. It was a hot, super professional Latin band .. my favorite tunes were Blue Bossa, Girl from Ipenema, and On Green Dolphin Street.
Afterwards, I satyed and watched Chris Owen entertain the masses. She is a very experienced and exciting entertainer: she really knocked everybody out.
It looks like I may be back at Casino Arizina in coming months ... I'm going to try to hang here in New Orleans until then.
NEW ORLEANS - Monday, March 06, 2006
I've been having the time of my life in New Orleans!!
I'm really impressed with the people of this city - they have a lot of heart !!
The music is so good, it tingles your ears, and wakes up your brain to the power of MUSIC.
I sang with a great group the other day, at the Market Cafe, in the French Quarter (near the French Market). These guys are super experienced, and we had an awesome time.
I've also been playing regularly with a trio at the ampitheater, in front of Jackson Square. I sing, and play saxophone. The drummer, Adam, is an awesome musicians I played with on cruise ships. And the third guy, Dave Gregg, is absolutely amazing. He plays chords on guitar with his left hand, then reaches behind with his right hand, playing leads on a guitar hanging behind his back. He then lays a bass guitar on the ground, face up, takes off his shoes, and plays bass with his toes. It's insane. We've been getting great crowds, and really having a blast !!!
Right now I'm rescheduling my flight to stay an extra week and a half - I just can't leave.
NEW ORLEANS - Saturday, February 25, 2006
What a great town!! ... a kind of drunken disneyland for musicians ...
This town is crawling with musicians - and everyone is so good. It's amazing.
You can really feel the respect and appreciation the New Orlineans hold for their musicians. I wake up with a smile every morning!
I've been invited to play with several bands, and even was offered a gig personally by Harry Anderson (of Night Court) to perform at his lovely piano bar "Ozwald's." (Unfortunately the first available night is next tuesday, when I'm supposed to get back to Phoenix. Might have to see how that goes...)
Everyone's been through a lot of trouble, with the storm and all, but the people of New Orleans have a lot of heart, and they're pulling through it.
Anyway, everyone should know that New Orleans is going strong !!!
Happy Mardis Gras to All !!
NEW ORLEANS - February 2006 - ???
I'm going to New Orleans to see what it's like for my fellow musicians in the Birthplace of Jazz.
Hope to sit in, jam, socialize, see old friends, and shoot lots of video.
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - December 2004 - January 2006
What a great experience I had playing music at Casino Arizona. I played at the lovely Arizona Room Piano Bar six nights a week. Learned a lot about music, incorporating modern jazz into my repertoire, and playing saxophone with a great jazz group called Sonorous.
MAZATLAN, MEXICO - May 2005
Traveled to Mazatlan with Ronnie Pierce, Seattle's great jazz man and saxophone teacher. We jammed with jazz musicians from around the world, and played a few shows of our own. Special thanks to the fine establishments in the Plazuela Machado, especially Pedro and Lolas and the Memorial.
Performed in the night time, and took saxophone lessons from Ronnie during the day.
LAS VEGAS - November 2004
Spent a month in Sin City playing gigs, and catching up with old friends.
ALASKA CRUISE - Vision of the Seas - July- October 2004
Rejoined Vision of the Seas to enjoy nature in beautiful Alaska. Great times playing music, and hanging out with fellow performers and people from all around the world.
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON June 14 - July 23, 2004
Now preparing to leave for Alaska cruising ....
Had the chance to play with the best musicians around ... a favorite was the three -way piano jams with Mikah (of The Dusty 45s) and Casey McGill (of the Blue Four) at the Capital Club and the Owl and Thistle. And what an honor to play with master bassist Chris Clark (Dexter Gordon, Red Norvo, Les Brown and his Band of Renown)! The shows with HB Radke were fabulous, and the 4th of July Street Fair was a blast!
Please read on for more musical adventures ....
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - July 4, 2004
Beacon Hill Street Fair
It was a great honor to headline this annual "open air" music festival. The all day
event featured fun, food, a very popular beer tent, and an afternoon full of great
bands. Live music and barbecue - from 2pm until the fireworks started at twilight.
I sang just prior and after the fireworks, joined by Seattle's visionary Ron
Weinstein on the Hammond Organ, Queen Anne (of "Monty's Angels" fame), David
Fischer on saxophone, Harry Pierce on clarinet, two swingin' drummers, and the
lovely Tamara Evans, of her own group, "Menagerie of Extravagance."
Fantastic!! I didn't want to go home when it was over.
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - June 24 and July 1, 2004
The Mirabeau Room (529 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA)
Had a blast performing a "double act" with the great HB Radke, backed by superb
musicians in a beautiful setting...
The Mirabeau Room has a gorgeous grand piano, made famous by Seattle's piano
lounge icon Howard Bulson, who even came to see the show ... and tossed a little
something in the tip jar! I was enthralled! "Big media stars" have little effect on
me, but I definitely get a little "starstruck" by the likes of Howard Bulson or Vegas'
HB and I traded off, singing, playing piano, calling tunes as fast as we could, and
cracking jokes all the while. HB also blew his trumpet, beat time on the drums,
and strummed jazz chords on the ukulele.
We were graced by the musical presence of Fred Radke, who now leads the Harry
James Orchestra, booked his own band in the Four Seasons Olympic Hotel for
years, and runs the music program at a nearby college. The sound of his mighty
trumpet pulls every element of the band together, pushing the music forward, with
The shining star was Chris Clark on bass violin. Chris stole the show, with his
virtuostic and charismatic solos and super solid bass lines. He knows his
business, and he "swings like a gate!"
Now well known in the Northwest as a first call bass player, Chris plays regularly
in Fred Radke's Big Band (The Harry James Orchestra), and Floyd Standifer's
group at the Pampas Room. He spent years in Los Angeles playing with "all the
big boys:" Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Bobby Hutcherson, Gerald Wiggins, Red
Norvo, Vic Damone, and probably every other big star in the world!
You can even see him playing bass with Jerry Lewis in "The Nutty Professor!!"
Jerry goofs in front of Chris' long term gig, Les Brown and his Band of Renown!!
It was a pleasure to have so many great musicians in one room. We were also
joined by singers: Monty's Angels, Queen Anne and Stacey, as well of the vocal
stylings of Paul Jensen, singer of the Dudley Manlove Quartet.
We all had a blast playing music together, and it was real fun to see our
fashionable friends frolicking in the lovely musical setting of The Mirabeau Room.
NEW YORK CITY - Sunday June 6 - June 14th, 2004
I Love New York!!
I got a great big music lesson ....
I went to see the great Bobby Short play at the Hotel Carlysle. Wow. What a great performer!! He really worked that crowd. He plays with a great band. The Duke Ellington arrangements were fantastic!!
One of Seattle's best musicians, Craig Florey just moved to New York, and I showed him several of my favorite haunts, and we caught a lot of live music. He's going to take over New York,. for sure!!
Visited several artist's studios, and helped build a "barn gallery" at a friend's vacation home in Pennsylvania.
ROYAL DOCKYARD, BERMUDA - Thursday June 3, 2004
Bermuda Cruise in Review
I can't believe a month has passed already ... Four cruises between the Statue of Liberty and Bermuda ... It has really been fun.
Most of my enjoyment has come from meeting and playing with musicians from around the world. There are quite a few other cool crew members too, from every corner of the globe. (When I get some time in port I'll post some photographs.)
Bermuda is a lovely island, with beautiful beaches, quaint botiques, and a very "English" feel to the culture. Nightlife is limited, "underground bohemia" seems nonexistent, but it's very relaxing. Definitely not a "bargain hunter's paradise." It would be a nice place to go with friends to relax.
I "debark" in three days, and continue into New York City for more action and adventure. There are quite a few cool places I want to check out.
While on board I contracted eight weeks on Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas, cruising between Vancouver B. C. and Alaska, then heading to Hawaii. (July 27 - October 10 for those who wish to join in the fun.) I also started talks to play November through February in the Caribbean on a "Voyager Class" vessel.
For now I'm focused on getting to New York, Seattle, and possibly Las Vegas before cruising to Alaska. So, for now, Bon Voyage!!
ATLANTIC OCEAN- Saturday May 8, 2004
Sailing to Bermuda
Empress of the Seas: Premiere and Maiden Voyage
Wow. All of a sudden I'm on a cruise ship taking off into the Atlantic, playing a brand new piano, in a packed room, heading off to Bermuda.
What a crazy world. Parents: take your kids right down to the piano teacher!!
The ship is quite lovely, and seems very seaworthy. Empress of the Seas is fresh out of drydock, and "revitalization" construction is still going on. The ship is crawling with maritime construction workers, cruise critics, travel agents, industry types, Royal Caribbean CEOs and directors, and an army of Finnish plumbers. It's quite a production.
The brand new Schooner Bar is one of the nicest rooms I've ever played. The brand new piano and sound system work great, and the decor is perfect for a relaxing piano lounge experience.
The guests are mostly New Yorkers, with the help of various "Tri - Staters," and a strong contingent of South Americans (Brazil and Argentina).
I have a very nice cabin on deck eight, with an adjacent balcony that makes a very nice place to chill out and watch the ocean go by.
"Here's to the gig and loving it!"
NEW YORK CITY- Friday May 7, 2004
The renovation of the ship is still underway.
Attempted to join Empress of the Seas in Bayonne, but was unable to check in, due to a shortage in cabin space.
No problem. I headed straight back to Manhattan.
Checked in with great friend and photographer / photo archivist Tony Troncale. Tony showed me the nightlife in the previously notorious "meat packing district." It has really taken off; the clubs are booming! (Literally!)
The highlight of the tour was a really cool outdoor lounge called The Frying Pan. The bar is located on a Chelsea pier, somewhere in the 20s on the west side, located behind a surreal giant basketball gym (?!?)
The tables and bar are surrounded by antique ships. The prize is a long sunken lightship, patinad and barnacle clad, now floating dockside. She now serves as a rusted music and dance hall. I think I found my next New York Venue!!
NEW YORK CITY - Thursday May 6, 2004
Managed to sleep in the airplane from Vegas to New York.
I dropped my luggage off at a Newark hotel, and headed straight to The City. Checked in with a great friend, the enigmatic professor Jane W of NYU, and "boom" - I had a place to stay in Manhatten.
After catching up for a while, I contacted another friend and fellow artist Fred Hatt. Fred is a Williamsburg (Brooklyn) based painter, photographer, videographer, musician, and (yes!) Butoh Dancer. He took me around to a number of artsy night spots in Williamsburg, as well as several lower east side locations, including my "old digs" on Ludlow Street. The block is now over run with night clubs, full of artiste's and poseurs making the scene.
Gotta love / hate that feisty "arts scene" in New York.
LAS VEGAS - Wednesday May 5, 2004
Recording session, mini concert, tiki pool party, and friendly jam.
Mike Powers is the best host in the world. Not only did he put Ronnie and me up for our three day swing junket, but he hosted a recording jamathon on the last night. We had a blast - playing, recording, relaxing, enjoying friends on a warm Nevada night.
Singer / bandleader Art Vargas, just off a year and a half on the Las Vegas Strip (at Bally's), joined in with great renditions of Sophisticated Lady and Almost Like Being in Love.
Audio and video recordings were made; Mr. Powers is editing. I'm very excited to see the results.
LAS VEGAS - Tuesday May 4, 2004
The Late Late Show; Starting 2AM, at The Double Down
What a great show, a kind of "homecoming," where many of our loyal friends and fans came together to join in the fun. We were joined by a drummer Ronnie met on the airplane, a very cool cat named Eric, who is also mixes sound on the Penn and Teller Show at the Rio.
The crowd and the band mixed perfectly - I look forward to seeing the photos Todd took.
Ronnie was the star of the show, although Mike Powers got some very rousing ovations throughout the night. Guest stars included my very first Las Vegas "Monty's Angel," Meri Conner. She turned on the stage presence, and the place went wild. The crowd kept demanding encores throughout the evening. Rob Ruckus, "Punk Laureate" of Las Vegas, sang "Is You Is, Or Is You Ain't My Baby." He regaled the audience as Ronnie played, "Do you know how lucky you are this guy came down here to play for you?"
He's right. The first time I brought Ronnie to the Double Down in about 1998, he was offered, on the spot, a job playing tenor on the Wayne Newton Show at the Stardust. (He turned it down!!!)
I got special enjoyment observing my favorite burlesque dancer, the lovely Tamara, of Monty's Angels fame, as she listened to Ronnie play Harlem Nocturne. She and I have performed the song together many times, as I play Ronnie's arrangement on the piano, vocal comping the melody. I watched her closely as she heard the original source - she recognized it immediately.
Suffice it to say Ronnie Pierce won everybody's heart that night.
Another treat was Mikah Grainger's appearance with several of his colleagues from the Yard Dogs, a real - life traveling bohemian burlesque and carnival company, out of San Francisco. (I had the pleasure to open for them last year, followed them to their next tour stop, and just about ran away with them for good!!) These happennin' carny hipsters lit up the dance floor, along with the rest of Las Vegas' Boho Elite.
Special thanks to Kirby Brownell and friends from the Katherine Gianaclis Art Park, who helped very generously with transportation and support.