JazzTimes 10: Classic Organ Jazz Albums

What to hear when you need to get your Hammond on

7. Joey DeFrancesco: Live at the 5 Spot (Columbia, 1993)

Jazz organ lay dormant for much of the ’70s and ’80s, a relic that even old hands like Jimmy Smith and Shirley Scott found it hard to make a living with. Unquestionably, though, the man who brought it back was Joey DeFrancesco. “Man” here is a relative term; DeFrancesco was 22 years old when he recorded Live at the 5 Spot, and by then he’d been a professional musician for six years and a recording artist for four. (At 19, DeFrancesco had played keys on Miles Davis’ Amandla.) His revival of the organ tradition infused it with a mellow glow, perfect for accompanying soul-sax stars like Illinois Jacquet, Grover Washington, Jr., and Houston Person, all of whom guest here. Not to be neglected, though, is the swinging work of DeFrancesco’s trio, with guitarist Paul Bollenback and drummer Byron Landham, who do much of the heavy lifting on “I’ll Remember April” and “All of Me.”

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Originally Published

Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.