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One doesn't often associate the sounds of the organ with the music of big bands, but that's exactly what you get when Joey DeFrancesco, a virtuoso on the Hammond B-3 organ, joins forces with renowned drummer Jeff Hamilton of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra as special guests of conductor Jorg Achim Keller and the German hr-Bigband (Hessischer Rundfunk).
While there's no question that you're listening to a typical big band album, as evident from the brassy sounds of the opening "Shangri-La, the organist steals the show and the limelight throughout. DeFrancesco enjoys plenty of orchestral space, and the band seems to withdraw on various tracks, allowing the sounds of the Hammond B-3 to emerge as a lead. This is particularly true on two beautiful renditions of Antonio Carlos Jobim classics, "Once I Loved and "Meditation.
Jeff Hamilton's infectious drumming lends a perfect balance, coming through in powerful form on "Once In A Lifetime. While Keller's arrangements of nine standards give major space to the organist, there are excellent solo passages by several members of the band, including Tony Lakatos (tenor), Axel Schlosser (trumpet, flugelhorn), Gunter Bollmann (trombone) and Harry Petersen (flute).
Other noteworthy standards that merit a listen are Matt Dennis' "Everything Happens To Me, Sonny Rollins' "Sonnymoon For Two, the love ballad "I'm A Fool To Love You and the nostalgic "Falling In Love. Once In A Lifetime showcases an amazing performance by Joey DeFrancesco, whose energy and melodic lines, with the support of Keller's fifteen-piece German ensemble, clearly define this album as a unique organ/big band project.
Track Listing: Shangri-La; Falling In Love Again; Once I Loved; SonnymoonFor Two; I'm A Fool To Want You; Tennessee Waltz; Meditation; Everything Happens To Me; Once In A Life Time.
Personnel: Jorg Achim Keller: conductor; Joey DeFrancesco: Hammond B-3 organ; Jeff Hamilton: drums;
Heinz Dieter Sauerborn, Tony Lakatos, Harry Petersen, Steffen Weber, Rainer Heute: reeds;
Paul Lanzerath, Martin Auer, Thomas Vogel, Axel Schlosser: trumpet & flugelhorn; Peter Feil,
Christian Jaksjo, Manfred Honetschlager: trombone; Werner Vetterer: guitar; Thomas
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.