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Cross-pollinating jazz and pop does not always yield fruitful residualsin many instances, it equates to an unbalanced succession of musical events. Here, however, Hammond-B3 titan Joey DeFrancesco renders a happy medium by jazzing up the songbook from the late pop icon Michael Jackson, with jazz, funk and rock stylizations, while retaining its inherent components. DeFrancesco and his band morph grooving jazz improvisation with Jackson's melodic hooks, yet neither genre dominates.
DeFrancesco carves the classic soul-pop ballad, "Never Can Say Goodbye," with sleek undertones abetted by guitarist Paul Bollenback's slippery funk voicings. The organist succeeds at instilling a soulful element, even when embarking on free-flight and climactic solo jaunts. DeFranceso and Bollenback trade torrid fours during the bridge, while gradually lifting the pitch towards the finale. The leader closes out the piece with silvery chord clusters, consummating one of many nicely orchestrated highlights evidenced throughout this tunefully upbeat program.
Personnel: Joey DeFrancesco: Numa organ, Keyb Duo organ, Numa piano, Hammond organ, trumpet; Paul Bollenback: electric guitar, nylon guitar; Byron Landham: drums; Pat Bianchi: keyboards; Carmen Intorre: percussion.
Jazz is a creative explosion of individual freedom and communication.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was a kid. My father had a music store.
The best live performance I ever attended was Kenny Garrett in Harlem, New York.
The first jazz record I bought was Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins.
My advice to new listeners is keep listening!