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Joey DeFrancesco: Wonderful! Wonderful!

Dan Bilawsky By

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Joey DeFrancesco: Wonderful! Wonderful! The organ trio is one of the most time-tested aggregations in jazz, and the men who form said grouping on Wonderful! Wonderful! are three of the most treasured musicians to ever play their instruments. Organ giant Joey DeFrancesco, guitar hero Larry Coryell and swinging drum stalwart Jimmy Cobb all set the bar impossibly high on their respective axes and now, they're joining forces on the organist's tenth album for the HighNote label.

This high profile threesome references everybody from saxophonist Sonny Rollins ("Wagon Wheels") and pop singer Johnny Mathis ("Wonderful! Wonderful!") to Duke Ellington ("Solitude"), putting its own stamp on this format in straightforward fashion. This date is essentially a blowing session with solos aplenty, but these guys never phone it in. They clearly delight in exploring the material, playing off one another and, in the case of DeFrancesco and Coryell, letting their envious chops off the leash.

The title track kicks things off with DeFrancesco's rise-and-fall organ melody, accompanied by single cymbal utterances, but it turns into a cooker in an instant. Benny Golson's "Five Spot After Dark" is completely straight-ahead, yet differentiates itself by focusing more attention on Coryell, while the clacking, triplets-on-rims groove that underscores the melody on "Wagon Wheels" gives way to a swing foundation for some sizzling solos.

Back-to-back organ cadenzas at the end of Ellington's lovely "Solitude" and the start of Coryell's waltzing "Joey D" give pause to admire DeFrancesco's flights of freedom as he paints complex pictures in inimitable fashion. He picks up his trumpet on a single occasion ("Old Folks") and conjures thoughts of his former employer—Miles Davis—as he delivers an expressive, mute-in-horn statement that's built around emotion rather than chops. The final swing salvo on the date comes in bluesy form ("JLJ Blues") and gives DeFrancesco and Coryell an opportunity to bat solos back and forth as Cobb lays down the law beneath them.

These musicians all play up to their respective reputations on this date and don't really touch on anything unexpected, but that's beside the point. The real treat is having the opportunity to hear these three legends in action together.

Track Listing: Wonderful!Wonderful!; Five Spot After Dark; Wagon Wheels; Solitude; Joey D; Love Letters; Old Folks; JLJ Blues.

Personnel: Joey DeFrancesco: organ; Larry Coryell: guitar; Jimmy Cobb: drums.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: HighNote Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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