Miles Davis was so impressed with DeFrancesco’s talent back in 1988, he asked the (then) 17-year old musician to play backup on Davis’ world tour. Since then, DeFrancesco has collaborated with great legends Jimmy Scott, Jimmy Bruno, John McLaughlin, Kenny Garrett and Grover Washington, Jr.
Now with his fifth and latest Concord Records release Falling In Love Again, DeFrancesco takes the listener back to simpler days, when falling in love was fun and when music was smooth and silky. With the soulful vocals and fresh arrangements of Joe Doggs and a plethora of exceptional artists; guitarist Pat Martino, tenor sax player Red Holloway, drummers Jeff ‘Hammer’ Hamilton and Byron ‘Wookie’ Landham, tenor saxman Ralph Moore, rhythm guitarists Kevin Eubanks and Ron Eschete, Ramon Banda on conga drums and Elijah Davis on trumpet, Joey DeFrancesco offers up eleven cherished standards with a variety of tempos and intricate interplay.
Referring to DeFrancesco in the linear notes as a "black belt" Hammond B-3 organist, Quincy Jones states "friendship and extraordinary talent, combined with spontaneous grooves and alpha-state imagination, resulted in this very exceptional recording."
Singing in the sensual style of his idol, Jimmy Scott, Joe Doggs has the smoothness of Sinatra and the depth and cool of Tony Bennett, creating a style that is totally Joe Doggs. No fear here. Each member of the group shines as the band and Doggs perform in flow.
With standing ovations the norm and being labeled as the number one organist, it would be easy to get caught up in stardom. After all, not many 32-year old entertainers have traveled with Miles Davis. And certainly, most don’t play the 400 pound Hammond B-3 with two 61-note keyboards. But although Joey DeFrancesco is hailed as the finest jazz organist performing today, he hasn't lost his humility and his willingness to allow other performers shine.
JazzReview: How did you choose the artists for this CD?
Joey DeFrancesco: I chose the artists on this CD because they are all excellent musicians. Great musicians listen. They pay attention, making it easy to fall in together during a song. When the artists work well together, the audience responds. On this CD, the artists are adeptly in tune with each other.
Jazz Review: And Joe Doggs? Where did he come in?
Joey DeFrancesco: I’ve known Joe for a long time. Now I’m at the place in my career where I can pretty much choose who I work with. I’ve always wanted to work with Joe. He is unique-and he should be heard.
JazzReview: I notice the music and Joe’s voice complement each other. Neither steps over the other.
Joey DeFrancesco: Because they are all wonderful artists, the music flows.
JazzReview: Miles Davis chose you at an early age. He saw something great in you even as a child. What is the greatest lesson you learned while being with Davis?
Joey DeFrancesco: I think mostly I learned how to relax, to let everything flow.
JazzReview: You haven’t been caught up in stardom, even though you’re labeled number one organist. How does it feel to be called number one?
Joey DeFrancesco: I feel very strongly that I’m fortunate to be doing what I’m doing. When I go home to the folks, stardom gets put aside. It’s still, ‘Joey put out the garbage.’ It helps me remember I’m just the vehicle. The music is the gift.
JazzReview: The same effervescence of DeFrancesco’s creations comes through in his speaking voice. Joey DeFrancesco is a gift to the jazz scene.