105

Joey DeFrancesco with Jimmy Smith: Legacy

Mark Sabbatini By

Sign in to view read count
Joey DeFrancesco with Jimmy Smith: Legacy 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 Second Act CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Imaga Mondo CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Port Of Call CD/LP/Track Review Port Of Call
by John Sharpe
Published: August 23, 2017
Read May I Introduce To You CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "Ephimeral" CD/LP/Track Review Ephimeral
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs" CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "Prick of the Litter" CD/LP/Track Review Prick of the Litter
by Doug Collette
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Layers" CD/LP/Track Review Layers
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "Waller" CD/LP/Track Review Waller
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "O Horizonte" CD/LP/Track Review O Horizonte
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 8, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.