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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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HighNote HCD 7199



1. Eighty One
2. The End of a Love Affair
3. Introductions
4. Ode to Angela
5. Songline
6. You Don't Know Me
7. Fly Me to the Moon
8. Whichole

Joey DeFrancesco - Organ
Paul Bollenback - Guitar
Byron Landham - Drums


I was feeling tired and a bit depressed - I can't remember why. Then I put on this CD, and my whole mood changed for the better. This session of live, no-nonsense jazz shed sunshine into my life. This album is sub-titled "The Original Trio" and there is certainly plenty of empathy between these three men, who have played together for many years. Drummer Byron Landham has backed Joey DeFrancesco for most of the time since 1989. Guitarist Paul Bollenback was with Joey from 1990 to 2002, when Paul (in Joey's ironical introduction) "moved on, started to do some other things on his own - and those things didn't work out too well, so he's back here - no, I'm only joking".

The opening Eighty One, by Miles Davis & Ron Carter, is a groovy, funky affair which immediately lifts one's spirits. It features Paul Bollenback in a lengthy but well-constructed solo. Joey DeFrancesco creates some interesting counterpoint between the keyboard and pedals of his Hammond organ, while Byron Landham lays down a driving rhythm.

The End of a Love Affair is taken at a fastish speed but it illustrates the trio's ability to play with quiet subtlety. It also displays the group's freedom - playing around with the tempo while swinging at almost any pace. It even goes into a kind of free jazz, which differs from many attempts at the avant-garde by maintaining coherence. Ode to Angela also starts gently, with DeFrancesco caressing Harold Land's composition. The rich harmonies he coaxes out of the Hammond B3 are set off against his dextrous finger work at the top of the keyboard. Paul Bollenback's solo also treats the tune sensitively.

Paul composed Songline, which again hints at a variety of tempos, although six-eight is dominant. Drummer Byron Landham solos powerfully against the Hammond background. Ray Charles's hit You Don't Know Me is appropriately delivered by Joey in a slow, smouldering tempo which evokes Ray's soulful spirit. Paul Bollenback's solo adds lyricism. The whole track abounds in the drama which organ trios are so well suited to producing.

Fly Me to the Moon is played at the request of an audience member: Joey's organist father, Papa John DeFrancesco. The performance avoids the bossa or four-four rhythm which so often accompanies this tune. Instead, the trio plays it basically as a jazz waltz, although yet again they appear to venture into several other tempos along the way, and Joey's solo is heightened by some cheeky quotes. Paul solos unaccompanied and in free time, before organ and drums join in for some fireworks, ending with Bachian counterpoint and a surprise climax.

The session closes with Whichole, a swinging DeFrancesco original which moves with such impetus that it almost overruns the buffers. This album actually makes me cry - with delight at the brilliant interplay of the musicians and the joyful feeling they generate.

Tony Augarde

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