The Hammond B3 organ was center stage for the first live jazz concert, featuring the Joey DeFrancesco Trio at the newly opened Redding’s Restaurant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Our host Chef Carl Redding kicked off what many hope will be the start of more live jazz in Atlantic City. The house was full for both sets.
Hammond B3 master Joey Defrancesco was joined by Paul Bollenback on guitar and Byron Landham on drums. Among the tunes performed were the jazz standards “On a Clear Day”, “Embraceable You.” DeFrancesco performed “Never Can Say Goodbye,” as a tribute to Michael Jackson. On the classic tune “Sing”, DeFrancesco appeared to be in the spirit of Jimmy Smith in the phrasing and chords he delivered. It was a beautiful thing to see and hear. I’m sure Jimmy was smiling down on this performance.
DeFranceso told the audience that this is his first time performing in Atlantic City. His father, jazz organist, ‘Papa’ John DeFrancesco, played in Atlantic City back in the ’50s, during the heyday of Club Harlem. DeFrancesco had been working on a recording project with the late great jazz organist Jimmy Smith just days before he died in 2005.
Jazz organ greats such as Wild Bill Davis, Jimmy Smith, Groove Holmes, and Jimmy McGriff were among the many jazz greats one could see frequently at jazz clubs that once lined Kentucky Avenue, affectionately known as “KY & the Curb.” Doug of Galloway, NJ said, “listening to Joey tonight, in this fabulous night club setting, brings back memories of the jazz clubs found in Atlantic City many years ago where I heard jazz organ greats such as Wild Bill Davis and Jimmy Smith.”
Chef Carl Redding told the audience that jazz has been a part of his life since he was a youngster and he plays various woodwind instruments. “The idea to bring live jazz to Atlantic City was a no brainer for me. I’m from New York and I didn’t even learn about places like Club Harlem until I came here, so this is pretty cool.”
There is an historic marker on the Atlantic City Boardwalk at Kentucky Avenue, which reads, “For more than four decades Kentucky Avenue ruled the East Coast music scene. The greatest jazz and blues stars of all time filled its many clubs with round-the-clock entertainment, including Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughn, Aretha Franklin, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Atlantic City’s national treasure, drummer Chris Columbo and his Swing Crew in the forties and fifties.”
More than 40 years since live jazz appeared in Atlantic City, Chef Carl Redding has a vision to have it return to Kentucky Avenue. Atlantic City has a new attraction; Redding’s Restaurant — a unique urban vibe, with sophisticated atmosphere, large street-side windows, and delicious southern cuisine.
We are hungry for more!
Executive Chef Carl Redding opened Redding’s Restaurant in Atlantic City in 2010. Redding’s offers moderately-priced traditional and updated Southern food ranging from Fried Chicken and Waffles to BBQ, Fresh Fried or Steamed Fish and myriad side dishes like his 5-Green Stew. Chef Carl has appeared on television, including the Conan O’Brien Show, the Emeril Lagassi Show and Food Network’s, “Best Of”. Chef Carl has been on NBC’s Today Show with Al Roker and has also cooked for and traveled throughout Africa with Oprah Winfrey. You can visit Chef Carl Redding’s website.