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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Big Shot

Savant SCD 2098



1. Red Top
2. Riders on the Storm
3. Too Young To Go Steady
4. Nola
5. Big Shot
6. Maricopa
7. Down Home
8. What

"Papa" John DeFrancesco - Diversi DV-Duo Plus Organ
Jerry Weldon - Tenor sax
Joey DeFrancesco - Keyboards
John DeFrancesco Jr. - Guitar
Mike Boone - Bass
Byron Landham - Drums

This album is proof that the family which plays together stays together. Organist "Papa" John DeFrancesco is joined by two of his sons: Joey on keyboards and John Jr. on guitar. It reminds me of an album which I used to play in the car whenever I needed to lift my spirits. It was one of the last recordings by organist Jimmy Smith with his disciple, Joey DeFrancesco on keyboards, and it swung like mad. So does this new CD, which combines elements of traditional organ trios - organ, sax and drums, or organ, guitar and drums - with Joey's keyboards adding even more flavours to the mixture.

But it is the organ which dominates this album - not only the keyboard but the pedals, which push out an unstoppable bass-line. The instrument is the Diversi organ, which Joey introduced on his Joey D! album last year and which is now tried out by his father to good effect. It is certainly as effective as the classic Hammond organ.

The album begins as it means to go on, with funky blues in the shape of the old swinger Red Top, which moves along at an easy tempo and gives Papa John the chance to show off what the Diversi organ can do. Tenorist Jerry Weldon plays with appropriate blues feeling. Joey's keyboards introduce the next number: Riders on the Storm, a tune originating from rock group the Doors and not necessarily the sort of tune that jazzers use for improvisation. But it works smoothly here, with good solos from all three DeFrancescos.

Joey moves to acoustic piano for a slow-burning Too Young To Go Steady, with plaintive tenor sax from Jerry Weldon. Nola is not the jazz standard but an original by Papa John, who also wrote the next three tunes. The sleeve-note rightly points out Nola's resemblance to the song Hi-Heel Sneakers, with a dramatic break in each chorus.

The title-track is a laid-back swinger where Jerry Weldon's bluesy solo coaxes the listener along and John Jr.'s guitar has an inviting touch of echo. Maricopa changes the tempo to a hustling but subtle Latin-American beat, while Down Home does what it says on the tin: a down-home blues where the organ and guitar preach righteously. The CD ends with a good-natured What, including elated shouts from the band, some churning tenor sax, and a near-rock guitar solo - all propelled by potent drumming from Byron Landham.

Another fine DeFrancesco album.

Tony Augarde

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