Born: April 10, 1971 Primary Instrument: Organ, Hammond B3
Joey DeFrancesco has come a long way from All of Me, his recording debut as a leader made in 1989 as a fresh-faced 17-year-old. From the get-go, the Philadelphia native established his credentials with virtuoso technique and an innate soulfulness that he brought to bear on the hulking Hammond B-3 organ which belied his young age but spoke of his deep Philly roots under the tutelage of his father, Papa John DeFrancesco, a B-3 burner in his own right. Through the 1990s, Joey was widely recognized as spearheading a renewed interested in the Hammond organ, an instrument that had fallen out of favor among musicians and the public since its golden period during the 1960s and early 70s.
Joey dazzling facility was once described as by guitar great Pat Martino, himself a veteran of many classic B-3 sessions. Combining monstrous chops with a flair for showmanship and an unquenchable urge to burn, DeFrancesco almost single-handedly put the Beast back in the public eye. As the late critic Leonard Feather wrote in the liner notes to his 1994 recording, All About My Girl: No less significant in the story of Joey’s ascendancy is the ability he has shown to create excitement. The tension he is capable of building brings back to mind a tradition that began some 50 years ago, when Norman Granz’ Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts began stirring up audiences around the country. Listen to a ˜Donna Lee” and other cuts on this CD and you can hardly fail to be moved by the emotion Joey and his colleagues generate.
Today DeFrancesco is regarded by organ aficionados as the baddest B-3 burner in the business (a claim supported by his DownBeat Critics Poll awards for 2002, 2003, 2004, 3005,2006,2007,2008,2012 & 2013). And while Joey has never made any boastful claims about his own ranking among the organ elite on the contrary, he has always respectfully deferred to his B-3 elders, the fact is, no organist today plays with the skill, harmonic depth, and authority of this phenomenon from Philly. With over 30 solo releases and historic associations with legends such as Miles Davis, Jimmy Smith, Bobby Hutcherson, Elvin Jones and John McLaughlin, DeFrancesco's place in the idiom’s history is cemented.