Joey DeFrancesco: The Champ


The Champ



Incredible! (Concord Records CCD-4890-2)

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Joey DeFrancesco (organ), Paul Bollenback (guitar), Byron Landham (drums).

Composed by Dizzy Gillespie


Recorded: San Francisco, October 28, 1999


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

Joey DeFrancesco is this era’s Hammond B-3 star, and rightfully so. He’s a master and a kindred spirit of Jimmy Smith, whose trio joined DeFrancesco’s for the final two numbers of this album, recorded at the 1999 San Francisco Jazz Festival. Still, even given the electricity of that collaboration, the piece de resistance of the concert was the DeFrancesco trio’s rendition of the Dizzy Gillespie tune “The Champ.” The group ruminates for 13 minutes and never revisits an idea. Check out what DeFrancesco does at 5:20: Right and left hand peck with stunning speed, seemingly arguing with each other and throwing off sparks like mad. The trio sets off such fireworks with this opener that you fear they can’t go anywhere but down when it’s over. Happily such a letdown fails to materialize.

Reviewer: Steve Greenlee

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