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Organic Vibes by Joey DeFrancesco

The late Jimmy Smith is considered by many to be the "Godfather of the Hammond B-3 organ!" Connoisseurs passionately believe that Smith set the standard for what the jazz organ should be about. In their minds, no other organist will ever come close to his innovative approach. Although Jimmy set the standard, other individuals such as Bill Doggett, Wild "Bill" Davis, Jimmy McGriff, Richard "Groove" Holmes and Milt Buckner are thought to be pacesetters in their own right. In the whole scheme of things, the organ may be the most least respected instrument in jazz, but by any measurement standard, it is one of the most powerful tools a composer can use to make a musical statement. Since the 1980s, the Hammond B3 organ has been slowly infiltrating traditional negative thoughts about the relevance of the organ in jazz. Artists such as Larry Goldings, Tony Monaco, Don Pullen, Barbara Dennerlein and Joey DeFrancesco have begun to breathe new life into jazz’s most orphaned instrument. In fact, DeFrancesco has been the most visible musician in recent years to make this happen. Joey’s latest CD entitled Organic Vibes is the continuation of a campaign that brings the Hammond B-3 organ back from an abyss that began in the 1970s.

Organic Vibes is a CD that re-aquaints its listeners with the so-called "Golden Age" of jazz, when mainstream music was the order of the day. The recording’s concept also reflects upon the individual influences of vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, whose dominance was also felt during the 1960s. Incidentally, DeFrancesco has included Bobby's skills on Organic Vibes to effectively convey his message of harmonic interaction that was often seen during jazz's high point. The upbeat rhythms and percussive attitudes projected by Francesco are superb, yet he affords an opportunity for other voices to speak as well. Included in this jaunt back into time are George Coleman, Ron Blake, Byron Landham and Jake Langley. With Hutcherson on board for color commentary, Joey DeFrancesco and company jumps out swinging. From the very first track entitled "The Tackle" that features a mild intro by Hutcherson, there is a spirit and energy that immediately takes hold of the senses. From then on, it is basically a free for all that ultimately comes together with one voice under a groove.

Organic Vibes is a CD that captures the imagination of what jazz used to be about with Jimmy Smith at the helm. Another track entitled "Little B’s Poem" is a Bobby Hutcherson original. Panoramic in approach, a picture is painted where there is a mutual interaction between everyone involved. Hutcherson drives the melody at one end, as Ron Blake on flute and DeFrancesco provide an interchange with a well-blended melodic vibe. In the background, Byron Landham keeps the rhythmic flow intact. In the CD’s more subtle moments, tracks such as "I Thought About You," "JeNeane’s Dream" and "Colleen" are mind benders in themselves, as the ever-present melodies of Hutcherson and DeFrancesco work their magic. Without a doubt, Organic Vibes is one of the most splendid collaborations between vibraphone and B-3 organ ever conceived. The chemistry provided within nine superbly arranged tracks are effervescent and reverent. In addition, the re-emergence of the organ as a viable jazz instrument is an eye-opener possessing a high degree of promise as a measure of artistic excellence.

Joey DeFrancesco is an artist who is bound and determined to re-create the charisma often experienced when Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff were prominent jazz influences. To bring Organic Vibes into an arena filled with smooth jazz non-essentials, DeFrancesco has proven artistic impressionism is alive and well. In addition, this CD not only showcases three original tracks, it also provides a perspective on Byron Landham and Bobby Hutcherson, both of whom are active participants on Organic Vibes. In the final analysis, this album lays claim to a style of music that combined blues and jazz into one unique entertainment model with considerable merit and value.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Joey DeFrancesco
  • CD Title: Organic Vibes
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Concord
  • Rating: Four Stars
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