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DeFrancesco earns his keep playing the Hammond


Joey DeFrancesco + The People, "Project Freedom" (Mack Avenue)

Current jazz' two greatest Hammond-B3 players in the Jimmy Smith tradition are Joey DeFrancesco and Dr. Lonnie Smith (the latter of whom grew up in Buffalo).

DeFrancesco plays a lot here that is more than a little extraneous to the great music he plays so well in the great organ group tradition. He plays some electric piano and, as he usually does in live performance, some trumpet which proves little more than his own affection for doing it and for his family's early friendship with Miles Davis. It's when he gets down to the tradition of blues-drenched, powerful, virtuosic Hammond-B3 playing that this record comes to outrageous life and earns its keep.

Tenor and soprano saxophonist Troy Roberts is a wonderful countervoice for DeFrancesco the way Stanley Turrentine and others were so often for Smith. The repertoire is all over the ideological map-- "Imagine," "Lift Every Voice Sing," Miles' "So Near, So Far," Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come."

The disc notes here are by Quincy Jones who, somewhat incredibly, quotes "my former teacher Nadia Boulanger" telling Q "your music can never be more or less than you are as a human being." His friend Joey he says, has "got the heart to match his talent and an endless supply of imagination mixed with 'soul and science' that shines through every note."

3 stars (out of four)


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