Defrancesco_span3
May 2007

Joey DeFrancesco
Live: The Authorized Bootleg
Concord Records

The steam begins to rise almost from the first notes of organ titan Joey DeFrancesco’s Live: The Authorized Bootleg, a CD that’s the result of allowing the Yoshi’s house engineer to record the festivities of a four-night stand at the Oakland, Calif., club last year, supposedly with no intention of releasing the material. The alchemy of the event, however, took over due largely to the inclusion of guest tenor saxophonist George Coleman, DeFrancesco says.

It didn’t hurt, of course, having the reigning B3 phenom tearing through his keyboard with lightning runs and tasteful support, yet Coleman is given free rein here to show how long he’s been overlooked in the hierarchy of tenor players. Remember that Miles Davis’ early-to-mid-’60s rhythm section felt Coleman played “too cleanly” and the result was Coleman’s departure and a fading of his star for no good reason—however, it also meant the great quintet with Wayne Shorter. It’s similar to the way Hank Mobley was ignored after Leonard Feather’s “middleweight champion” comment back in the day.

Coleman slashes through this music with vitality, most of the time with the sort of heat one expects from a much younger player. Yes, there are ballad moments and the tenorist sits out for “I’m in the Mood for Love,” a vocal feature by Colleen McNabb, but Coleman is mostly on fire. Although he is slightly tentative on the opening “Cherokee,” Coleman is particularly noteworthy the rest of the way. His truly grand solo on Lee Morgan’s “Ceora” stands out. The energy level stays high for “On Green Dolphin Street” and “Little Girl Blue,” as Coleman spins out his lines with great creative aplomb, then reaches a boil on the closing “Autumn Leaves.”

DeFrancesco plays at his usual drivingly intense and amazingly fleet style, showing the technical flash that has placed him atop the B3 mountain in the last few years. One needn’t go on about his work since he’s already a widely known entity. Guitarist Jake Langley doesn’t get a lot of space but uses it very well. And drummer Byron Landham keeps the pots boiling throughout.

Originally published in May 2007
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