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Joey DeFrancesco

Joey DeFrancesco

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Joey DeFrancesco is an American jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 organist
Organist
An organist is a musician who plays any type of organ. An organist may play solo organ works, play with an ensemble or orchestra, or accompany one or more singers or instrumental soloists...

, trumpet
Trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

er, and vocalist. Down Beat
Down Beat
Down Beat is an American magazine devoted to "jazz, blues and beyond" to indicate its expansion beyond the jazz realm which it covered exclusively in previous years. The publication was established in 1934 in Chicago, Illinois...

's
Critics and Readers Poll selected him as the top jazz organist every year since 2003.

DeFrancesco was born in Springfield, Pennsylvania
Springfield Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
Springfield Township, or simply Springfield, is a township and a Census Designated Place in Delaware County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The population was 23,677 at the 2000 census...

. His grandfather was multi-instrumentalist Joe DeFrancesco, of Italian descent; his father is Hammond B3 player "Papa" John DeFrancesco
John DeFrancesco
'Papa' John DeFrancesco is an American jazz organist and vocalist, and father of Joey DeFrancesco and Johnny DeFrancesco....

, who took his son to jazz clubs from the age of seven. Joey DeFrancesco started playing the piano at the age of four, switching to the B3 shortly after. By age six, he was sitting in on his father's gigs; by ten, he was playing out on his own, also sitting in with organ legends like Jack McDuff
Jack McDuff
"Brother" Jack McDuff was an American jazz organist and organ trio bandleader who was most prominent during the hard bop and soul jazz era of the 1960s, often performing with an organ trio.-Career:...

 and Richard "Groove" Holmes
Richard Holmes (organist)
Richard Arnold "Groove" Holmes was an American jazz organist who performed in the hard bop and soul jazz genre...

. DeFrancesco went to high school with bassist Christian McBride
Christian McBride
Christian McBride is an American jazz bassist. His father, Lee Smith, and his great uncle, Howard Cooper, are well known Philadelphia bassists who served as McBride's early mentors...

, where the two were often scolded for altering their big band charts.

When DeFrancesco was seventeen years old, Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz,...

 asked him to join his band. DeFrancesco toured Europe and recorded Amandla
Amandla (album)
Amandla is an album by jazz musician Miles Davis, released in 1989. It is the third collaboration between Miles Davis and producer/bassist Marcus Miller, after Tutu and Music From Siesta , and their final album together. The album mixes elements of the genres go-go, zouk, funk and swing jazz,...

with Davis. He became well known in the 1990s, however, through his work with John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin (musician)
John McLaughlin , also known as Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, is an English guitarist, bandleader and composer...

's trio Free Spirits. He has also played with jazz guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

ists Pat Martino
Pat Martino
Pat Martino is an Italian-American jazz guitarist and composer within the post bop, fusion, mainstream jazz, soul jazz and hard bop idioms.-Biography:...

, Paul Bollenback
Paul Bollenback
Paul Bollenback is a jazz guitarist who has appeared on Entertainment Tonight, The Tonight Show, The Today Show, Joan Rivers, and Good Morning America, and has performed with musicians including Charlie Byrd, Arturo Sandoval, Herb Ellis, Stanley Turrentine, Spyro Gyra's Scott Ambush, and Della Reese...

, Jimmy Bruno
Jimmy Bruno
-Biography:Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bruno started playing at the age of 7. He began his professional career at the age of 19, touring with Buddy Rich. Among his many credits, he is the only guitarist to have ever led Frank Sinatra's band...

, Dave Stryker
Dave Stryker
Dave Stryker is an American jazz guitarist. He has 21 CD’s as a leader to date, and has been a featured sideman with Stanley Turrentine, Jack McDuff, and Kevin Mahogany, among others...

, Danny Gatton
Danny Gatton
Danny Gatton was an American guitarist who fused rockabilly, jazz, and country styles to create his own distinctive style of playing. A biography, Unfinished Business: The Life and Times of Danny Gatton by Ralph Heibutzki, was published in 2003. It has a voluminous discography...

 as well as trumpet player Big Jim Henry and many others.

DeFrancesco's own recordings as leader, first with Columbia, and later with labels such as Muse and Big Mo, established what Chris Parker has referred to as "his importance as one of the most unfussily virtuosic torch-bearers of contemporary organ jazz."

DeFrancesco listened to and learned from Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith (musician)
Jimmy Smith was a jazz musician whose performances on the Hammond B-3 electric organ helped to popularize this instrument...

, to whom he pays homage in his 1999 High Note release, The Champ. In 2000 he recorded the album Incredible! with Smith. He also pays tribute to Don Patterson
Don Patterson (organist)
Don Patterson was an American jazz organist.Patterson played piano from childhood and was heavily influenced by Erroll Garner in his youth. In 1956, he switched to organ after hearing Jimmy Smith play the instrument...

 in Tribute to Don Patterson: The Philadelphia Connection released in 2004. DeFrancesco also learned from McDuff, and recorded with him as well. DeFrancesco paired with Jimmy Smith on Smith's last effort, called Legacy, finished just days before Smith died in 2005.

Today, Joey DeFrancesco plays an average of 200 nights a year on the road with various musicians. His core bands include Byron Landham (drums), Paul Bollenback
Paul Bollenback
Paul Bollenback is a jazz guitarist who has appeared on Entertainment Tonight, The Tonight Show, The Today Show, Joan Rivers, and Good Morning America, and has performed with musicians including Charlie Byrd, Arturo Sandoval, Herb Ellis, Stanley Turrentine, Spyro Gyra's Scott Ambush, and Della Reese...

 (guitar) or Pat Bianchi
Pat Bianchi
Pat Bianchi is an American jazz organist. In 2010, Downbeat named him among the ten best organists in jazz. He took up piano at age seven and began formal lessons at age 12. He studied classical piano at the Eastman School of Music and jazz piano at the Berklee School of Music. His second album...

 (keyboards). When not on the road, he resides in Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 with his mother, father and daughter Ashley Blue Defrancesco.

Sources

  • Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather, & Brian Priestley. Jazz: The Rough Guide. London: Rough Guides. ISBN 1-85828-528-3
  • Richard Cook & Brian Morton. The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD 6th edition. ISBN 0-14-051521-6

External links

  • Joey DeFrancesco Official Website
  • [ Joey DeFrancesco] — biographical sketch by Steve Huey, for Allmusic.