Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

105

Joey DeFrancesco with Jimmy Smith: Legacy

Mark Sabbatini By

Sign in to view read count
Sometimes circumstances guarantee albums a certain stature before they hit the street. One simply hopes the music proves worthy.



The death of legendary organist Jimmy Smith a week before the release of Legacy, headlined by protégé Joey DeFrancesco, assures strong interest from both old and new organ jazz crowds. It's a solid coda for a five-decade career that redefined the role of the Hammond B-3 organ, although on merit it's a bit short of Smith's top work.



Smith, who performs on the latter part of DeFrancesco's live 2000 release, Incredible!, spent his final couple years playing weekly jam sessions with the younger organist. They're in a comfort zone on Legacy, their first studio collaboration, which focuses largely songs from Smith's career, along with a handful of standards and DeFrancesco originals.



There's more refinement than revolution from both men, but also more comfort than cliché, and comparing them is entertaining throughout the eleven-song, seventy-minute collection. DeFrancesco, as one might expect, puts out most of the more energetic passages, but Smith is hardly in danger of fading into the background, and his occasional verbal comments—not to mention his raspy vocals on "I've Got My Mojo Workin'"?—give this the feeling of a fun and loose session.



Many songs found on previous Smith albums gets a speedier, funkier and sometimes less subtly appealing makeover on Legacy. "Back At The Chicken Shack"? features a heavy infusion of modern percussion backing organs that are thicker, louder, and alternate between passages of greater complexity and repetitiveness than the 1960 original, but ultimately the piece offers an equal level of intrigue and artistry. Saxophonist James Moody gets "special"? billing for his appearance on "Jones'n For Elvin,"? but it's drummer Byron Landham who fittingly supplies the life of this tribute to another recently departed legend.



For sheer enjoyment, Incredible! probably remains the superior collaboration, which an audition of "St. Thomas"? (the one tune shared between the albums) makes clear. It's about twice as fast on the live album after emerging from an extended medley that begins with "The Skeezer"? and passes through some nursery-rhyme phrasing in transit. On Legacy it's short and one of the lower-key songs on the album, a shame for a whimsical tune with such a common frame of reference. Also, the generation gap can be heard on DeFrancesco's modernistic title track, where the more complex pacing is a bit at odds with the classic pieces—but suggesting it be left out is also to be hopelessly mired in the past.



Like watching an athlete who's lost his game, it's painful to see someone try to prop up inferior late-career performances by a musical legend. No such effort is needed on Legacy if you're willing to accept the album as a quality work without trying to elevate it into a landmark. Doing so pays proper final respect to Smith and remembers him as he entertained listeners on an everyday basis, without the false pretensions at odds with the workmanlike music he defined.


Track Listing: 1)Legacy 2)Dot Com Blues 3)I'll Close My Eyes 4)Back at the Chicken Shack 5)Jones'n For Elvin 6)Off the Top 7)Corcovado (Quiet Nights) 8)I've Got My Mojo Workin' 9)St. Thomas 10)Blues for Bobby C. 11)Midnight Special

Personnel: Joey DeFrancesco--Organ Jimmy Smith--Organ James Moody--Tenor Saxophone

Title: Legacy | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Copenhagen Live 1964 CD/LP/Track Review Copenhagen Live 1964
by John Sharpe
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Somewhere Glimmer CD/LP/Track Review Somewhere Glimmer
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by John Sharpe
Published: December 14, 2017
Read I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2017
Read "Telepathy & Bop" CD/LP/Track Review Telepathy & Bop
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 5, 2017
Read "Evergreen" CD/LP/Track Review Evergreen
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 5, 2017
Read "Post Bop Gypsies" CD/LP/Track Review Post Bop Gypsies
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 30, 2017
Read "Goat Man & The House of the Dead" CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Hybrido - From Rio To Wayne Shorter" CD/LP/Track Review Hybrido - From Rio To Wayne Shorter
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 12, 2017
Read "Lionsong" CD/LP/Track Review Lionsong
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 18, 2017

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!