Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Monaco, Amanda (Wagner)
Monaco, Amanda (Wagner), guitar; b. New Haven, CT, 27 October 1973. She grew up in Wallingford, CT with her parents, Maryann Wagner Monaco (b. March 25, 1949 in Hartford, CT) and Domenic Monaco (b. October 26, 1948 in New Haven, CT). She is the eldest of two children (sister Jennifer Susan Monaco, b. July 8, 1976 in New Haven, CT). Amanda's father was a guitarist in high school, and played in a dance band with three of his brothers in a band called the Monacats and then the Pat William Four. Amanda's mother was a violinist but switched to painting and writing by her teens. Her entire extended family (on her father's side) was made up of electricians, plumbers, etc., but were very musical nonetheless, playing trumpet, drums, accordion and singing.
Amanda studied jazz in high school from 1989 to 1991 at the Educational Center for the Arts, under the tutelage of guitarist George Raccio. Her classmates included pianist Noah Baerman and saxophonist Wayne Escoffery. She also played French horn in the Greater New Haven Youth Orchestra, conducted by Carol Nies. She graduated from high school in 1991 and entered college at Rutgers University in September, studying guitar with Ted Dunbar and music with Kenny Barron, Ralph Bowen and Larry Ridley. In 1993, she transferred to William Paterson College, where she studied with Rufus Reid, Harold Mabern, John Riley, Steve Wilson and Kenny Burrell. Amanda graduated from WPC in January 1996. Having already moved to New York City in 1995, she began studying guitar with Wayne Krantz and put together a trio with organist Adam Scone and drummer Paul Wells. In late 1996, she started a new trio with bassist Nicholas Walker and drummer Russell Meissner. The Amanda Monaco Three played all over downtown New York, and recorded an unreleased CD in September 1998. In 2000, Amanda formed the all-girl jazz quartet The Lascivious Biddies with pianist Deidre Rodman, vocalist Lee Ann Westover and bassist Lisa Mezzacappa. They played venues such as the Cutting Room and Torch. It wasn't until Mezzacappa was replaced by bassist Saskia Lane that the group began performing at Cornelia Street Cafe, Rodeo Bar and Joe's Pub, and were selected to perform as part of Carnegie Hall's Neighborhood Music Project. In 2001, Amanda formed her quartet The Amanda Monaco Four, with saxophonist Jason Gillenwater, bassist Fraser Hollins and drummer Jeff Davis. They have played around New York City in places such as CB's Lounge and Cornelia Street Cafe.
Recordings, Broadcasts, Films:
The Camaros: Evil (1998); The Lascivious Biddies: Biddi-luxe (2002); The Amanda Monaco Four (2002, as yet unreleased); The Lascivious Biddies appeared on Bobby Flay's Food Nation on February 11, 2002; The Amanda Monaco Three recorded original music for the NYU student film Dr. Laura's Gonna Getcha, by Flickering Duck productions