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Joey DeFrancesco: Trip Mode

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Joey the Aggressor has emerged with this album. With new guitarist Dan Wilson and new drummer Jason Brown, the organist’s trio harkens back to-as liner-note writer Mark Ruffin points out-the Larry Young-Grant Green-Elvin Jones triumvirate of the late ’60s. This trio isn’t just burning, it’s hammering, thumping, thundering and laying down a profound hardcore groove. The title tune, which opens the album, sets the pace in terms of blitzing organ runs, volcanic drum eruptions and fiery guitar spurts that develop into fleet, organized lines. This kind of tough, jam-session sensibility also infuses Wilson’s “Who Shot John” and DeFrancesco’s “In That Order” and “Traffic Jam” (somewhat reminiscent of Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance”). But with the organist’s “Cuz U No,” the pace changes to a slow, swaying blues, evoking the emotional momentum inherent in gospel-fueled church services. Amen!

Additional performances feature DeFrancesco on piano and trumpet and as a vocalist. On all of these-his “Arizona Sunrise,” “On Georgian Bay,” “What’s Your Organ Player’s Name” and Ray Noble’s “The Touch of Your Lips”-bassist Mike Boone is added. DeFrancesco’s Miles Davis-influenced brass work has improved to the point that you might be fooled into thinking the trumpet is his primary instrument-as on “What’s Your Organ Player’s Name,” reminiscent of Davis’ electric period, with its backbeat, muted trumpet runs and organ funk. On “The Touch of Your Lips,” DeFrancesco’s singing has style, class and feeling. His piano playing is strong too, and considering his prowess on the organ there’s no reason to think otherwise. This is a fine album throughout, but the biggest impression comes from the aggression and soul of the new trio.

Originally Published