Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Organist and trio come to Jefferson Center


Joey DeFrancesco

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The info

Who: Joey DeFrancesco Trio

Where: Jefferson Center, 541 Luck Ave., Roanoke

When: 8 p.m. Friday

How much: $26; $22; $16; students, half price

Contact: 345-2550, jeffcenter.org, joeydefrancesco.com

Jamming out on great jazz music is in Joey DeFrancesco's DNA.

The Philadelphia-based organist's father is "Papa" John DeFrancesco, also a Philly-based jazz organist. His grandfather, Joe, was a multi-instrumentalist who worked with Tommy Dorsey in the big-band era.

Joey DeFrancesco was sitting in on his papa's gigs before he was old enough to drive, and by the time he was 17, he was recording and touring with Miles Davis.

Now 38, Joey DeFrancesco is an internationally admired frontman with ferocious feel and chops. He brings his band to Jefferson Center on Friday night.

Several sources credit him with reviving interest in jazz organ with rotating speaker cabinet, sounds developed by such giants as Jimmy Smith and "Brother" Jack McDuff. He learned from them and built on their tradition. Critics and listeners have responded with praise.

For seven consecutive years, DeFrancesco has won the best organist category in DownBeat magazine's critics poll. Jazz Times magazine's readers also love his playing, selecting him their favorite on the big, soulful keyboards.

On Friday night, he fronts a trio including drums and piano, playing straight-ahead jazz, blues, gospel and rock. Go to his Web site, joeydefrancesco.com, to hear samples of how the double-keyboard arrangement works. Hint: It works really well.

But don't expect to see the classic setup of Hammond B-3 and Leslie rotary speaker cabinet. It's been decades since Hammond made the last B-3, though many vintage models are out there. DeFrancesco uses a Diversi organ featuring a rotary simulator, which sounds like a Leslie. He likes the instrument so much that he bought into the company.