105

Joey DeFrancesco: 40

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Joey DeFrancesco: 40 With 40, Joey DeFrancesco—the world's foremost contemporary jazz organist—heralds his fortieth birthday by presiding over a trio session that is typically dexterous and engaging from start to finish. As good as it is, however, a DVD would be even more persuasive, as DeFrancesco's consummate mastery of his chosen instrument should really be seen as well as heard to be thoroughly appreciated. His right hand is so virtuosic that he seldom has need for the left, using it sparingly to append an obligatory chord every now and then. Seeing and hearing DeFrancesco perform is a remarkable experience, one not to be missed.

On the other hand, simply hearing DeFrancesco in his element, leading a polished and enterprising trio, is quite a pleasurable experience in and of itself. On this studio date, recorded in June 2011, two months after he turned forty, DeFrancesco is as brilliant as ever, and is steadfastly supported at every twist and turn by drummer Ramon Banda and guitarist Rick Zunigar. Zunigar also adds a second solo voice, his laidback guitar in marked contrast to DeFrancesco's ebullient keyboards (the plural is necessary because the leader plays the classic Hammond B-3 on some numbers, the innovative digitally-designed Numa—especially created for him by Studiologic—on others; Pete Fallico's liner notes don't disclose which).

As for the music, DeFrancesco wrote six of the nine selections, the first three for his children ("Donny's Tune," "Ashley Blue") and wife, "Gloria." The others are Ray Charles' high-stepping "I Got a Woman" (DeFrancesco's earnest tribute to Jimmy McGriff) and the seldom-heard originals "One Hundred Ways" and "Caruso" (which should be heard more often). While there is ostensibly only one blues ("Bluz 'n' 3"), the truth is that almost every note DeFrancesco plays is submersed in the blues tradition, so there's an element of that genre even in straight-ahead burners like "Donny's Tune" and "Life Is Good" or ballads such as "Gloria" and "Caruso." DeFrancesco, who has been known to sing from time to time, does so once, on the heartfelt homage to Mrs. D, whose plainspoken lyric he apparently wrote.

When it comes to traditional organ trios, there aren't many—if any— that can reach this level, let alone sustain it from prelude to coda. Recommended? Without pause.

Track Listing: Donny's Tune; Ashley Blue; Gloria; 100 Ways; I Got a Woman; V&G; Life Is Good; Bluz 'n' 3; Caruso.

Personnel: Joey DeFrancesco: Hammond B-3 organ, Numa organ, vocal (3); Ramon Banda: drums, percussion; Rick Zunigar: guitar.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: HighNote Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read LifeCycle CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Right Up On CD/LP/Track Review Right Up On
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Wanderlust CD/LP/Track Review Wanderlust
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Imagination CD/LP/Track Review Imagination
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Evolution CD/LP/Track Review Evolution
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 23, 2017
Read On A Monday Evening CD/LP/Track Review On A Monday Evening
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "Migration" CD/LP/Track Review Migration
by Budd Kopman
Published: July 20, 2016
Read "Live In The Black Forest" CD/LP/Track Review Live In The Black Forest
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 9, 2016
Read "Umbra" CD/LP/Track Review Umbra
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "Tributango" CD/LP/Track Review Tributango
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC" CD/LP/Track Review Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC
by James Nadal
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "The Pauper And The Magician" CD/LP/Track Review The Pauper And The Magician
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 17, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!