CD Review of The Authorized Bootleg by Joey DeFrancesco Live

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Buy your copy from Joey DeFrancesco Live:
The Authorized Bootleg
starstarstarno starno star Label: Concord
Released: 2007
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B-3 organ jazz is an acquired taste. Those who can dig its gospel-soul sound and don't mind it sneaking its way into hard bop and cool jazz ensembles -- or in this case, being the featured instrument -- will appreciate the fun-loving, high-spirited, lightning-fast improvisational style of Joey D. This guy is the Horowitz of the organ, probably the best technically gifted player to come along. His jazz instincts probably won't ever be considered up there with Jimmy Smith's, and the soul-jazz crowd will always worship Groove Holmes and Jimmy McGriff. But for pure talent and jaw-dropping runs, man, DeFrancesco is it.

This gig, captured last April in Oakland while he was on stage with Miles Davis' My Funny Valentine-era sax man George Coleman, features seven tracks, mostly long jams on standards such as "On Green Dolphin Street," "Autumn Leaves," and "Cherokee." While the CD spine might read "bootleg," there's nothing bootleggy about the recording: The guitar mic could have been placed a little better, but other than that, the sax and organ work might as well have been done in the studio. As always, DeFrancesco smokes up the place with his total command of both manuals when soloing, but also dials it all back tastefully when comping behind the guitar and sax solos.

Like the performances, the album itself was pretty spontaneous. DeFrancesco had his engineer record the four-night stint at Yoshi's for his own edification, and when he listened to the tapes it was clear: A smokin'-hot record was born. Hence the authorized bootleg part. Can't complain about much on this record, except possibly for the choice of tunes -- there's little that's new or that stretches these guys. Still, the B-3 jazz player is a dinosaur about to be driven extinct by young keyboard rats toting digital clones that sound different. Their players don't get the Jimmy Smith gospel tutelage. It's a dying art, and this CD catches some serious players at a high peak in their careers.

~Mojo Flucke, PhD