Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Joey DeFrancesco: The Champ

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

By now, organist Joey DeFrancesco should have secured his place among the masters of the B-3. This latest recording should confirm that status.

The Champ is billed as a tribute to Jimmy Smith. As such, DeFrancesco utilizes Smith’s early classic combo set-up, simply organ-guitar-drums, with Randy Johnston and one-time Smith associate Billy Hart. Furthermore, the program consists of titles culled from Jimmy Smith’s popular hits.

The adulatory nature of the tribute album ends there, however. DeFrancesco builds upon Smith’s repertory to present a burning session that pulsates in its own right, and Joey marks his own stamp on these tunes rather than merely copying Jimmy’s style.

There are later pieces such as “Walk on the Wild Side” and “The Cat”, and “OGD (The Road Song)” to remind us of Jimmy and Wes, plus the usual standard songs that receive a mighty workout in the organ-guitar trio format.

DeFrancesco puts in a virtuoso performance here, with the foot-tapping grit that exemplifies the best of the Hammond organ, with a touch of elegance and soul.