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City Rhythm Orchestra with Special Guest Joey De Francesco: Vibrant Tones

Vibrant Tones, by the Philadelphia-based City Rhythm Orchestra, includes a studio CD recorded in 2001 plus a live DVD from 2003. Each features organist Joey DeFrancesco in a major role both as soloist and as a member of the ensemble. The charts, all arranged by Joe Matt, include such jazz tunes as “Senor Blues,” “Billie’s Bounce,” “The Midnight Sun Will Never Set,” “Blues in Hoss’ Flat,” “Whirly Bird,” “Moanin’,” “Turn Me Loose” and “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be” as well as pop tunes like “One Mint Julep,” “The Cat,” “Peter Gunn,” “Walk on the Wild Side” and a few standards. Except for a few substitutions, the repertoire and the band personnel are identical on the CD and DVD.

DeFrancesco is in great form throughout. He swings mightily, and his inventive lines are imbued with soulfulness. And as always, he displays an impressive agility on his cumbersome instrument. He evens treats the DVD audience to a pretty decent vocal on “Pennies From Heaven.” The band not only carries out its ensemble role with aplomb (check out the blazing “Whirly Bird”) but also boasts some excellent soloists in its own right, among the best being the guitarist Paul Bollenbeck.

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