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  Top » Catalog » Joey DeFrancesco Thursday 27 November, 2014  
Joey DeFrancesco  

The global jazz community has credited Joey DeFrancesco and his recordings from the late 1980s and early 1990s as the singular sensation for rekindling a love for the Hammond B-3 organ. But the wunderkind turned legend didn’t simply catch his break when he performed with Miles Davis as a teenager; the organist has patterned his career after the trumpeter’s example of constantly pushing the creative envelope and bringing together new and disparate cohorts.

When DeFrancesco released his Columbia debut, All Of Me, at the tender age of 17, the Hammond Organ Company hadn’t produced a new B-3 for 14 years. The synthesizer had effectively taken over the music upon which Joey had built his dreams and developed his passion. But that release and Joey’s undeniable style almost single-handedly rekindled the listening public’s interest in the classic ‘60s organ trio. “The success of my early recordings seemed to trigger a great response from those who loved the music of Jimmy Smith and McDuff, as well as from new jazz fans. Suddenly, the organ was popular again,” he says. “It has always been a soulful instrument, and R&B and the funky blues sounded so good on it. The combination of the two was so appealing that the sound John Patton and Jimmy McGriff created in the ‘60s became the standard sound in modern jazz. I was just playing the music I loved, finding new ways to approach it, and never worried about the hype. My success was a result of being comfortable with what I was doing, and excited to be doing it.”

It is more magical to believe the myth that DeFrancesco’s exposure in Miles Davis’ band—which included extensive touring and appearances on the famed Amandla and Live Around the World recordings—led to his deal with Columbia. In truth, A&R legend Dr. George Butler had shown interest in the organist long before. The Philly native was a true prodigy, advancing so quickly on his own that he was bored with formal studies. “Once my father saw I was interested, he got involved,” he says. “He approached it in such a way that if he was pushin’, I didn’t notice it because I loved the instrument so much.”

DeFrancesco was landing professional dates by age ten. At 16, he was the first recipient of the Philadelphia Jazz Society's McCoy Tyner Scholarship and a finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. Then came Davis, the first of many legendary associations on a resume that would someday include John McLaughlin, Jimmy Bruno, Houston Person, Kenny Garrett, and finally, on his second Concord recording Incredible! (1999), a pairing with Jimmy Smith.

“I’m glad that my records have made people excited about the organ, and the best part of all this has been playing with so many great artists, being on the road and sharing the love for what I do with audiences who really get it,” he says. “I love bringing people in and making them happy. I think I’ve been able to keep a level head about everything because I’m always focused on the music first, and on the many ideas I have for every subsequent project. Sometimes, I’m just amazed by all this, and there are always great moments which remind me why I enjoy it so much.”

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Mort Weiss: The B3 and Me

No Place to Hide

Nocturnal Velvet

Raising the Bar - The Definitive Mort Weiss

The Four of Us

The Mort Weiss Quartet
(AKA Mort Weiss Meets Joey DeFrancesco)

The Three Of Us

REVIEWS more

Compact discs such as (this one) suggest that there is vivid, swinging life in Jazz traditions--and ..

5 of 5 Stars!

ARTISTS

Mort Weiss

Ron Eschete'

Joey DeFrancesco

Ramon Banda

Dave Carpenter

Roy Walter McCurdy, Jr.

Melodye