Joey DeFrancesco: Joey DeFrancesco’s Goodfellas

“Dad, are you in the Mafia?”

“There’s no such thing as the Mafia.”

-dialogue from HBO series The Sopranos.

The other day whilst scarfing slices ‘n’ root beer, headphone-nodding to track one (“Speak Softly Love”) of Hammond B-3 ace Joey DeFrancesco’s new Goodfellas (Frank Vignola, guitar; Joe Ascione, drums) CD, I went into deep reverie, flashing back to my formative years in Jersey. A bumping, double-time “Volare” took me back to a dinner years ago in a mobbed-up restaurant in Newark’s Vailsburg section. It was like down-home-big plates of food, kids running in/out the kitchen, laughter, Frank, Ray, Louie Prima, Jim}y Smith playing on the jukebox. A jaunty fox trot (“Fly Me to the Moon”) and a “te amo” slow drag (“All the Way”) later, I was deep in the retro-gestalt. Judging by the trio’s cover portrait homage to Scorcese’s Goodfellas, the mouthy, wiseguy liner notes, album-closer “Whack ‘Em (Reprise)/Tarentella”‘s ill salute to Jimmy Smith, Joe Pesci and Nino Rota, Goodfellas (the band) feel what I’m feeling.

Other jams like the hard-bopping/bomb dropping torqued-up cover of Monk’s “Evidence,” the bouncy blues bum rush of bel canto chestnut “O Solo Mio,” and “Malafemmena”‘s Meters, second line-fonkin’/Muddy Waters mojo-boppin’ Las Vegas-twist on “When You’re Smiling” are all about stretching out, courting the joy of surprise, upping the bar.