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June 2001

John "Papa" DeFrancesco
Hip Cake Walk
HighNote Records

"Papa" John DeFrancesco doesn't have the organ chops of his famous son, Joey, but he keeps a funky groove and solos effectively in a pared-down Jimmy Smith manner on the soul-jazzed Hip Cake Walk. The tunes are all appropriate to the jazz-organ tradition: "The Cat" and "Back at the Chicken Shack" (both identified with the Smith legacy), Horace Silver's "Song for My Father," Bobby Timmons' "Moanin'" and organist Don Patterson's swinging title tune. Miles Davis' "Milestones" and "Freddie Freeloader" also appear, along with a couple of "Papa" John originals.

Veteran tenor saxophonist Bootsie Barnes, a supple, bluesy soloist in the manner of Hank Mobley, performs on all but one track. Joey DeFrancesco, playing trumpet, joins him on five cuts. (If you didn't know it was Joey, you wouldn't know the trumpet isn't his main instrument.) Melvin Sparks (hip comping on the title track) and John DeFrancesco Jr. split guitar duties. The drum chair is likewise split between Byron Landham and Glenn Ferracone, with percussionist Kevin Jones joining in on four tunes. Rob Landham plays alto saxophone on one cut.

"Papa" John's solos contain mostly sustained notes and repeated riffs and funky licks, all meted out in a timely but rarely flashy or rapid-fire manner. Barnes is a refreshing alternative to the run-and-gun style of saxophonics. Saxophonist Landham acquits himself well on "Milestones."

Altogether this family affair is compatible and easy-going.

Originally published in June 2001
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