From the perspective of family history, there wouldn't have been a Joey DeFrancesco, arguably the most famous of the contemporary interpreters of the Hammond B-3 organ, without the style that he learned from his father. John DeFrancesco moved to Philadelphia in 1967 and became part of the jazz scene there when his wife presented the former trumpet player with a gift of an organ. His five previous recordings for the Muse, HighNote and Savant labels emerged in tandem with the rise of his son's popularity, beginning with Joey's 1988 debut on Columbia.
Desert Heat is more than likely a titular reflection upon the fact that both pere et fils have relocated from Philly to the desert-like conditions of the Southwest, specifically Phoenix, where this album was recorded. I frankly cannot tell much of a difference between the styles of Papa John and Joey DeFrancesco. Although Joey joins this session as a keyboard player, along with The Banda Brothers (bassist Tony and drummer/percussionist Ramon), the organistics are left entirely up to Papa John. Incidentally, the Bandas are most known for their long-term affiliation with conguero Pancho Sanchez's ensemble.
Stylistically, Papa John shows the influences of Jimmy McGriff and Jimmy Smith on the instrument; he keeps his playing appropriately funky but varies the moods. Among the highlights here are the title track, "Desert Heat," Eddie Harris' "Cold Duck Time," and the closing original, "Fields." In order to slow down the pace, Papa John delivers a balladic version of Gilbert Becaud's "What Now My Love," plus the Buddy Kaye standard "I'll Close My Eyes" and a slow bluesy version of the traditional "House of the Rising Sun." Just about all of the soloing is provided by the Hammond B-3.
If you're a fan of the organ combo, add another notch to this rating!
Personnel: Papa John DeFrancesco: Hammond B-3 organ; Joey DeFrancesco: keyboards; Tony Banda: keyboards; Ramon
Banda: drums, percussion.