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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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"PAPA" JOHN DeFRANCESCO

A Philadelphia Story

Savant SCD 2112

 

 


1. Papa Was a Rolling Stone
2. Strange Brew
3. By the Time I Get to Phoenix
4. The Thang
5. It's Your Thing
6. You Are My Sunshine
7. Dr. Mike
8. Blues in the Closet
9. A Philadelphia Story

"Papa" John DeFrancesco - Hammond B-3 organ
John DeFrancesco Jr. - Guitar
Glenn Ferracone - Drums
Joey DeFrancesco - Trumpet (tracks 1, 3)
Joe Fortunato - Tenor sax (track 8)

 

The DeFrancescos (DeFrancesci?) are a musical family. I have already praised several albums on which "Papa" John DeFrancesco and his son Joey both played the Hammond organ. However, on this CD, Joey appears on only a couple of tracks playing the trumpet, while his brother John DeFrancesco Jr. plays the guitar throughout the album.

In fact, Joey and John Jr. are prominent in stating the theme of the opening number, Papa Was a Rolling Stone - the song which got the Temptations into the British pop charts twice. Here it becomes basically a funky riff, complete with handclaps. Joey shows he's an acceptable trumpeter on this track and in By the Time I Get to Phoenix, which is delivered as a plaintive ballad. But I would still prefer to hear Joey playing the organ, or him and his dad duetting on that instrument.

Joe Fortunato adds his tenor sax to Blues in the Closet, which is often played with more clout than it is here. All the other tracks are by the organ trio under the direction of Papa John and it has to be said that the father seems a less accomplished organist than Joey, at least on this album. One is used to hearing keyboard fireworks from Joey's superior technique. Papa John often appears content to supply a wash of colour behind the guitar, and his solos are effective but laid-back - although things warm up for Lou Donaldson's The Thang. Yet even here one's attention focuses mainly on John Jr.'s accomplished guitar. On You Are My Sunshine, the guitarist conjures up echoes of Wes Montgomery, with neat octaves and plucky single-string work.

Most of the other tracks are straightforward blues, where the younger John generally outshines his father. This is not one of the best DeFrancesco albums but it is nonetheless very acceptable.

Tony Augarde



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