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Joey DeFrancesco: More Music (Mack Avenue)

A review of the organist's release with fellow organist/guitarist Lucas Brown and drummer Michael Ode

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Joey DeFrancesco: More Music
The cover of More Music by Joey DeFrancesco

Why Joey DeFrancesco would need another organist in his band seems beyond reason. After all, he’s been breathing new life into the organ-trio aesthetic for decades all by himself. Perhaps his teaming with Pharoah Sanders two years ago on In the Key of the Universe was a signal that Joey D is now willing to test all waters. In any case, the title of More Music has a deeper meaning; not only does DeFrancesco welcome fellow organist/guitarist Lucas Brown and unbridled drummer Michael Ode into his circle for a new trio, but he also displays his talents for organ, piano, trumpet, and—for the first time on record—tenor saxophone.

Starting with the easy complexity of “Free,” where he’s driving his simmering B-3 below his own dancing trumpet’s red blare, the famed Philadelphia organ man shows early that his new music is dedicated to mood. A swelling tenor sax, breathy and Gene Ammons-esque, accents the tender balladry of “Lady G,” strolling to its finale with the gentlest of Hammond blue grace notes. “Just Beyond the Horizon” and “In Times of Reflection” highlight Brown’s cool Cali guitar licks—the first a card game between a candy-apple sweet six-string and Joey D’s mellow organ swirls, the second featuring DeFrancesco as pixie-ish pianist and muted trumpeter pirouetting in tandem with Brown.

Ode lends beguilingly random rhythms to DeFrancesco’s contempo organ/tenor workout “Angel Calling,” with the same level of pulsing complication he gave “Free” but with far less hard punctuation. How three musicians so happily floating in mid-air ever land on terra firma is a mystery. However, the showy bachelor-pad organ blues of “Where to Go,” the frisky funk of “This Time Around,” and the slow, swinging “And If You Please” (complete with quietly hammy vocal) all show off the trio’s down-to-earth warmth as well. 

How much more can Joey DeFrancesco do? If More Music is any indication, the sky’s the limit.

Learn more about More Music on Amazon and Apple Music!

Joey DeFrancesco and Pharoah Sanders: Meeting of the Spirits