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Joey Defrancesco

The music of Joey DeFrancesco -- an important force in the revival of the Hammond B-3 organ as a jazz instrument -- runs the gamut from soul-jazz and bluesy grooves à la Jimmy Smith to hard bop to the more advanced modal style of Coltrane disciple Larry Young. Born in Springfield, PA (near Philadelphia), on April 10, 1971, DeFrancesco was the son of another Philly-area jazz organist, Papa John DeFrancesco, and the grandson of multi-instrumentalist Joe DeFrancesco, who worked with the Dorsey Brothers. He began playing piano at age four and quickly switched to his father's instrument, preferring the sound of the Hammond B-3 over the modern synthesizers that had become the dominant alternative to piano. He began sitting in at his father's club gigs around age six; by age ten, he was performing paying gigs on the weekends and sitting in with artists like Jack McDuff and Groove Holmes.

DeFrancesco continued to study through high school, drawing from Philadelphia's rich jazz organ heritage and the numerous veteran players who still found work on the city's club scene. At 16, he was the first recipient of the Philadelphia Jazz Society's McCoy Tyner Scholarship, and was also a finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. He met Miles Davis on a local television show and impressed the trumpeter enough that DeFrancesco was invited on tour following his high-school graduation in 1988.

After appearing on the well-received Live Around the World and Amandla albums, DeFrancesco scored a solo deal with Columbia and released his debut as a leader, All of Me, in 1989. Four more Columbia albums followed (Where Were You?, Part III, Reboppin', Live at the Five Spot), one per year, and DeFrancesco's reputation grew steadily, helped by the fact that as a virtuosic yet vintage-style organist, he was something of an anomaly on the early-'90s jazz scene. His arrival presaged -- and, in fact, helped kick-start -- a renewal of interest in organ jazz of all stripes, and he remained one of the most versatile and advanced of the new breed of players; inspired by Davis, he even picked up the trumpet as a second instrument.

After parting ways with Columbia, DeFrancesco recorded sets for Muse and Big Mo, and began working extensively with guitarist John McLaughlin. His appearance on 1994's After the Rain and his subsequent international tour with McLaughlin brought him to a whole new audience. He spent the next few years working mostly as a sideman, however, and returned to the studio under his own name in 1998, recording All or Nothing at All for Big Mo; he also appeared with his father on All in the Family for High Note. The following year brought The Champ, a tribute to Jimmy Smith (also on High Note), and a new record deal with Concord Jazz, which kicked off with the Mafia movie soundtrack tribute Goodfellas.

DeFrancesco finally teamed up with longtime hero Jimmy Smith for 2000's Incredible!, and issued the Concord follow-up Singin' and Swingin' in 2001, which spotlighted his easygoing vocals. In the meantime, he also continued to record sessions for High Note, including the sequel The Champ: Round 2 (2000) and another tribute to one of his influences, The Philadelphia Connection: A Tribute to Don Patterson (2002). Always a busy and prolific artist, DeFrancesco released five albums in the next five years: 2003's Falling in Love Again, which featured jazz singer Joe Doggs; 2004's Plays Sinatra His Way; 2005's Legacy, again with Jimmy Smith; and 2006's Organic Vibes. Live: The Authorized Bootleg followed in 2007 from Concord Records, while Joey D! appeared in 2008. In 2009, DeFrancesco paid tribute to one his idols with Finger Poppin: Celebrating the Music of Horace Silver. In 2010, DeFrancesco returned with the similarly minded tribute album Never Can Say Goodbye: The Music of Michael Jackson. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Joey and Groove Holmes must have been one hellva of a set unfortunatel y the Groove man is longer with us.
Mr Joey is a bad man....
timbo.nelson
Sensational ability to swing. Can we think another artist who is almost single-hande d l y responsible for the reemergence of an instrument, like Joey and the B3? Unheard of, at least to me. Hung with the man in Portland for a night, and saw him kick the pants of a show with Byron and Dan Balmer (playing a GB-10), who more than held his own!
love his thunder on the organ and his tender, super vocals- whenever possible catch a live performance- he's a monster... and l mean that in a positive way! Both Joey De and Jimmy Smith(the latter no longer with us) kick up serious grits ...
j5newber
I am a 72 yr old guy how used to be a district manager for Hammon Organ Company. Ah, those were the good ol days! Joey and Rosemary Bailey are the 2 greatest B3'rs ever!!
On the Hammond B-3 , nobody like joey D
Joey D is awesome and I just love his music with all greatness! Your number 1 listener from Columbia, SC Bo Hicks/Bass Man Himself...!! ! !
I "discovered" Joey D in 2010 and can't believe I've never heard his incredible jazz organ tunes before! AWESOME TALENT!!
Any Joey people around 2day?
I have met Joey myself. This pic shows how thin he used to be. I only wish he would lose weight so hopefully he will be around for a long time. And, wow, I agree with all the comments on his playing. I've heard once he hears a horn solo, he can hum it back! Some kind of incredible "audio memory".
I absolutely love the Hammond B-3 and Joey is one of the finest players today.
Great stuff love the Hammond another bad they plays with the Hammond is Soulive get a chance check them out as well.
I heard him live at the Mondavi Center in Davis , CA in 2008. A phenomenally talented keyboard artist who can play anything. Don't miss a chance to hear him live.
evl281
I had the opportunity to meet Joey last year at NAMM. What a terrific guy. It was the highlight of the show for me...ernie*
wkwsr100
Love the sounds of the Hammond b-3. Been listenig to Joey for quite some time, also Papa John. Had the opertunity to se and here Joey Play at Fort Dupont in Washington D.C. He was a killer!! He's there with my main man Jimmy Smith, Who he played with in his childhood.
Kenneth Washington

This Guy has talent,style , g r o o v e , a l l around Joey is cooooooooooo l - and as a drummer would luv to jam with him.
I met Papa John & his son Joey in one of the best blues/jazz clubs outside of Philly (Vincent's Up & Down, West Chester PA) They jammed for hours on end with no cover charge. Joey played with George Benson and could play just as good if not better. If you have a chance to see these guys live, drop what you're doing and see them.
Great contemporary jazz artist. Highly recommended.
Joey D. is the man now that Jimmy Smith has passed on to that great B-3 Heaven

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