Jazz CD Reviews
Joey DeFrancesco – Joey D! – High Note
Published on November 25, 2008
(Joey DeFrancesco, Diversi organ; Jerry Weldon, tenor sax; Byron Landham, drums)
The new Joey DeFrancesco CD, Joey D! is an exciting release for several reasons. It brings Joey back to the High Note label after a four-year hiatus in which he recorded for Concord Records. The main reason that Joey’s new release is a reason for excitement, however, is that he is debuting a new drawbar organ made by the Diversi Musical Instrument Company, which features a modified sound engine and “modeling technology.”
DeFrancesco was so impressed with the sound that the Diversi elicits that he has bought into the company and will be touring as an ambassador for the company while performing and doing clinics. The Diversi is able to duplicate a vintage tone wheel console organ. According to the liner notes, it can sound like a vintage Hammond B-3 organ with a richer, deeper tone, especially in the bass foot pedals.
Folks have rehabbed old Hammond B-3 organs for years and Hammond has even introduced the “New” Hammond B-3 organ on which several Hammond masters have recorded. The Diversi, however (in the right hands) has options that compare to a synthesizer, but can complement the gritty sound that has kept the Hammond B-3 as the organ of choice for blues and jazz organists.
Now as far as a sound test, can the Diversi pass the “grease” quotient that the Hammond B-3 brings out in spades? Well, to this Hammond B-3 fanatic, I’d have to give out an emphatic, “Yes!” Give a listen to the opening number, Dig, and you’d be hard pressed to say that Joey D was not grooving on a classic old Hammond. After Jerry Weldon’s soulful solo, Joey brings out his bag of tricks on the Diversi, and we’re in B-3 bliss, though it’s the Diversi at work.
The J.J. Johnson ballad, Lament, follows and Weldon is again dripping blues with his tenor. Joey provides sensitive comping and we know the Diversi has truly arrived. Take Me Out to the Ballgame is a trip with its authentic baseball intro, before Weldon and Joey venture out a bit, but always keeping the familiar melody, while stretching out. The Lerner and Loewe standard, If Ever I Should Leave You follows, and it’s a relaxed version where Weldon shines. Besame Mucho gets a typical Latin reading, but it’s a tune not found often on a jazz organ CD.
Come Dance With Me, and Blues Up and Down, are classic Hammond (woops, now Diversi) tenor/organ workouts, and Jerry and Joey handle them with ease. Nancy (With the Laughing Face) is a highlight on Joey D as DeFrancesco really puts the Diversi through its paces and it shows itself to be blues worthy.
It will be exciting to see where the Diversi stands with other Hammond aficionados. It certainly is in good hands with the newest member of the Diversi ownership team. Check out the cool photo of the Diversi organ on the back page of the liner notes. Better yet you can also see the full Diversi line on the company’s web site. Those lucky enough to be in NYC next week can see Joey in action on the Diversi, at The Iridium with a dream organ summit including Dr. Lonnie Smith and Reuben Wilson. Now that’s a summit showdown I’d like to attend…
TrackList: Dig, Lament, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, If Ever I Should Leave You, Besame Mucho, Come Dance With Me, Nancy (With the Laughing Face), Blues Up and Down
– Jeff Krow