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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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JOEY DeFRANCESCO

Live: The Authorized Bootleg

Concord 0880072301238

 

 



1. Introduction - Joey
2. Cherokee
3. Ceora
4. I'm in the Mood for Love
5. On Green Dolphin Street
6. Little Girl Blue
7. Autumn Leaves
Joey DeFrancesco – Hammond B3 organ and keyboard
George Coleman - Saxophone
Byron Landham - Drums
Jake Langley - Guitar
Colleen McNabb - Vocals (track 4)

Since the sad demise of Jimmy Smith, who is my favourite jazz organist? One of the strongest contenders must be Joey DeFrancesco. Indeed, he was one of my favourites when Jimmy Smith was still alive. The album that Jimmy and Joey recorded together just before Jimmy died was one of my top choices for 2005.

This new CD looks set to being one of my favourites for 2007. In April 2006, Joey played for a week at Yoshi's in Oakland, California. As often happens, the sound engineer recorded the sessions. When Joey heard the tapes, he felt they deserved to be released as an album because "This stuff is burning!!" The sessions were special because saxophonist George Coleman was playing with Joey's regular trio, and the two men clearly stimulated one another to make some exciting music, with the added thrill of a "live" event before an enthusiastic audience.

The opening Cherokee really is thrilling, with both George and Joey reeling off reams of notes at high speed, aided and abetted by Byron Landham's dynamic drumming. The way they end the tune sounds as if it might descend into a shambles but instead it is a humorous exchange of unexpected bits and pieces which has jazz's essential "sound of surprise". The mood is calmer for Ceora, a gentle bossa nova written by Lee Morgan and given nearly 14 minutes of interpretation. Coleman's tone is tough but tender; Jake Langley's guitar solo is the soul of discretion; and Joey's fingerwork is phenomenal. Coleman lays out for I'm in the Mood for Love, which brings in Colleen McNabb for a very slow vocal. She messes up the lyrics, singing "the stars above us" instead of "the stars we're under", thus torpedoing the rhyme "is it any wonder". This track creates a change of mood but an unnecessary one.

Things perk up again for On Green Dolphin Street, with tentative chords from DeFrancesco and the theme stated enigmatically by Coleman, whose subsequent solo is strikingly exploratory. Joey follows his example, avoiding the obvious and finding some unpredictable gems. On Little Girl Blue, Joey switches to electronic keyboards for a delicate introduction, taken up thoughtfully by Coleman, leading into his impassioned solo. The ending is, again, a triumph against seemingly impossible odds. The set rounds off with a vigorous version of Autumn Leaves. George Coleman once more proves that he can play with a full awareness of jazz tradition while exploring unexpected byways which may have sprung from the avant-garde but now seem completely at home in a setting such as this. The guitarist plays another shapely solo, while DeFrancesco does what he is best at: raising the temperature and keeping it boiling. The fours he swaps with the drummer maintain the intensity. We can be glad that the sound engineer's tapes didn't end up in a box somewhere but are now available for us to hear and enjoy

Tony Augarde

 

 



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