Joey DeFrancesco

I caught Joey DeFrancesco Trio at New Morning in Paris, France on April 12, 2016. Joey is a legend, even though he’s only 45; having played with Miles at a tender age, he’s now at the forefront of the B-3 trio tradition. JDF, drummer Jason Brown, and guitarist Dan Wilson all have tons of chops and they’re not shy about using them, but at no point did they bludgeon the audience with their ability. I got an ideal seat right by the organ where I could see exactly what Joey was doing. For the most part he was tapping time on the bass pedals with his left foot but not really ‘walking bass’ (more on that later). He’s a remarkable trumpet player, worth seeing just for that, but then he plays the horn with one hand while comping on the organ with another and playing bass on the pedals. And the rest of us can hardly text while walking. I didn’t catch the name of the first song but while vamping at the end, they went into a bit of Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You”, a nice synchronicity with a recent post of mine: https://tmblr.co/ZYpsRi21X-hQL . Also early in the set they played - and Joey sang - a lovely arrangement of “April In Paris”. Perfect. These three guys are really attuned to each other and Brown would frequently catch Wilson’s and DeFrancesco’s musical quotes and chuckle. Guitarist Dan Wilson in particular made it look so easy even when playing George Benson style virtuosic runs.

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go home and practice or give up playing. Playing the B-3 is difficult for so many reasons (you’re keeping time and playing some bass with your feet, playing bass and sometimes comping with your left hand, while playing lead lines and changing drawbar registrations, Leslie speaker speed, etc. with your right hand) but on top of that most audience members have no idea what you’re doing up there behind what appears to be an antique writing desk. And you’re expected to also put on a show and smile and entertain? Well, Joey is not afraid of being an ‘entertainer’ as well as world class musician. This is something I really aspire to do. If he wasn’t using one of his limbs he would put it in the air so the crowd *knew* he was doing something challenging and special. He would gesture and vocalize and dance at the organ too. All good tricks for me as an organist to steal. Joey also brought out some very fancy footwork, soloing with his feet better than most of us can hope to do with both hands and a fake book. 

After a really satisfying show including encores, all three musicians met with the audience members, shook their hands, and signed albums. Joey was even kind enough to record a station ID for CJSR FM 88.5 in Edmonton. Class act!

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