Although he’s been on the Concord label for several years now, it seems that the well spring of material that Joey DeFrancesco cut for Joe Fields’ HighNote imprimatur continues to be harvested with the latest offering being this 1998 session recorded in 24-bit digital splendor by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder. Don’t look for the title on this one to provide much more than a unifying element for the tunes included, which just happen to be numbers that ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ recorded at some point during the span of his career. Known to vocalize somewhat himself, DeFrancesco does no singing here either. The emphasis is on the type of hard swinging groove music that has always been this organist’s main form of expression.
In the company of Houston Person (who led DeFrancesco to the Muse label many years ago), guitarist Melvin Sparks, and longtime drummer Byron Landham, our leading man delivers nine selections that all clock in at around the five to six minute length. With its clever opening vamp, “Pennies From Heaven” finds DeFrancesco at his boppish best, with Sparks weighing in with his own juicy chords in support (as well as a solo that includes a clever “shave and a hair cut” quote to boot). At the start of his career I happened to interview Joey and he commented on how much he dug the bass lines of Groove Holmes. That he’s developed his own way with those foot pedals is clear on this performance alone.
There’s really no need to analyze each individual track here, as anyone even remotely familiar with DeFrancesco will be aware of his mastery of the mighty B-3. Van Gelder’s sound job brings Joey and the guys right into your living room. This no frills affair may be short on the revolutionary, but it will surely please fans of DeFrancesco, Person, and Sparks.
Track Listing: I Get a Kick Out Of You, Teach Me Tonight, Pennies From Heaven, What's New, Witchcraft, What Now My Love, Don't Worry 'Bout Me, Falling In Love With Love, Angel Eyes
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.