Joey DeFrancesco’s emergence in the 1980s marked the onset of a musical renaissance. Organ jazz had been a form of music that literally went into hibernation from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties largely because of the introduction of high-tech, light-weight keyboards. It was Joey, however, that ignited the flame once again with the sound of his vintage Hammond organ and Leslie tone cabinet. He not only illuminated this once dormant music form but brought back the many proponents of jazz organ who had been shuffled by record producers and club owners to lesser roles within the music industry. Befriending and supporting those who preceded him, Joey became the new-age proponent of an instrument that had been pushed aside in favor of the growing technology.
Considered a child prodigy, Joey remembers as far back as age four, playing jazz tunes modeled by his father, Papa John DeFrancesco and memorizing music from the many jazz albums in their home. Papa John, a jazz organist himself, took young Joey under his wing and nurtured his rapidly developing skills, bringing Joey along with him to gigs, Joey would sit-in with as many seasoned Philadelphia musicians who were around. Legendary players like tenor saxophonist, Hank Mobley, or drummer, Philly Joe Jones, would soon become aware of young Joey DeFrancesco and acknowledge his enthusiasm. Joey’s grandfather and namesake, Joseph DeFrancesco, was the patriarch and, himself, a musician’s musician; able to pick up a new instrument and teach himself to play. This gift was passed down to young Joey and now manifests itself in Joey’s extraordinary keyboard skills; piano playing; and organ wizardry - not to mention his undeniable mastery of the trumpet. Joey’s desire to play the trumpet began after touring with the great Miles Davis. An interesting encounter would introduce the two; Miles was a guest on a Philadelphia television program where Joey was a band member. Instead of critiquing the featured high school trumpet players, Miles inquired about the organ player and quickly gathered Joey’s contact information. Joey would soon become one of the two youngest musicians ever to be asked by Miles to join the band (the other being Tony Williams). Years later, it would be Joey who would be complimenting his own jazz organ performances with exciting bursts of trumpet tones in the notably influenced style of former employer, Miles Davis.
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“…ranging from sublime to positively pyrotechnic… the best B3 player on the
planet” - Jazz Times
“Mr. DeFrancesco is a deeply authoritative musician, a master of rhythmic
pocket, and of the custom of stomping bass lines beneath chords and riffs.” -
New York Times
“no organist today plays with the skill, harmonic depth, and authority of this
phenomenon from Philly.” -Jazz Police