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Hammond B-3 Master Joey DeFrancesco Brings His Killer New Album and Uplifting Message to Jazz Standard

Jazz Standard

116 East Twenty-Seventh Street New York, NY 10016

Joey DeFrancesco made his name in the jazz annals for being the spark plug that revitalized the appeal of the Hammond B-3 organ after it had been cast aside as an oldster instrument of the ‘60s and early ‘70s. His self-taught organ prowess resuscitated the B-3 when he was 16 and recording his 1989 Columbia debut, All of Me. Recently in a chat at Birdland, he said, “I’m only 45 and I’ve been doing this for 41 years…I played with Miles Davis and John McLaughlin when I was still just a kid.”

He arrives at Jazz Standard to play his killer new album, Project Freedom, featuring his hot band of tenor saxophonist Troy Roberts, guitarist Dan Wilson, drummer Jason Brown that he’s dubbed “The People.”

DeFrancesco delivers a churchy cover of the gospel hymnal standard “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (aka “The Black American National Anthem”); cools out with organ grit on Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”; and infuses with funk “So Near, So Far” from Miles’ Seven Steps to Heaven. A highlight of the album is the fiery original, “The Unifier,” where DeFrancesco in the studio hooked up a VOX wah-wah pedal to the organ, which he admits has been done before. “But the way I’m using it is so different,” he said. “It’s only hooked up to the upper manual, while the bottom and the bass are still steady. So it sounds a lot like a Moog. A lot of people don’t know it’s an organ. That’s one of the things that I’m digging now—adding more effects to the actual organ sound. Really it’s unlimited. I’m just starting to touch on this. But I don’t want people to think that I’ve really lost my mind. So I’m easing it in.”

After a string of tour dates, no doubt DeFrancesco has eased it in and is launching into new adventures on the B-3. —Dan Ouellette


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