The organist Joey DeFrancesco passed away yesterday, in the United States for reasons that are still unknown.
The news of his death was released by his wife Gloria on social networks: “The love of my life is now at peace with the angels. Right now I have very few words. Thank you for all that outpouring of love and support that comes to me from everywhere. Joey loved you all.”
He was 51 years old.
a child prodigy
Joey was a gifted musician, with a swing that thrilled audiences and a style full of fast, slippery melodic lines, playing with countless artists including Ray Charles, Miles Davis, George Benson, John McLaughlin, John Scofield, Arturo Sandoval, Van Morrison, Diana Krall, James Moody, Bobby Hutcherson, Larry Coryell, and David Sanborn.
He was nominated four times for the Grammy Awards. and recorded as a leader more than 30 albums.
He was a child prodigy on the organ. He made his debut at the age of 4 playing on the organ nothing less than compositions by the great Jimmy Smith (1928-2005). At age 10 he joined a Philadelphia band in which Hank Mobley played tenor sax and the drummer was Philly Joe Jones. The band became strong in that city and ended up opening for artists like BBKing or Wynton Marsalis, among others.
He followed in the footsteps of his father, the renowned organist Pope John DeFrancesco, however, the tone that Joey gave his music marked the revival, in the mid-1980s, of the “jazz organ”, which had entered a period of hibernation. .
Born June 1971 in Pennsylvania into a family with three generations of musicians, Joey DeFrancesco certainly had a natural gift for music. After touring with Miles Davis, he started playing the trumpet and on his latest album MoreMusicreleased in September last year, played organ, trumpet and tenor sax.
The revival of the organ
His artistic career was boosted from his first album All of Me, released in 1980, where he excels on the Hammond B3 organ, his main instrument. During a television performance, with his classmate, double bassist Christian McBride, Discovered by Miles Davis who included him in his band and recorded the album Amanda (1989).
By this time, DeFrancesco had already created what was called the philadelphia sound at the hammonda fresh style but embellished by its fierce improvisations and deep bass lines with the organ pedals that transmitted an infectious swing.
Among the different projects he had, stands out The Free Spirits (1993), an organ trio, with John MacLaughlin on guitar and Dennis Chambers on drums, which lasted four years with two very interesting albums: Tokyo Live (where he would have played the trumpet) and after the rain.
In 1999 he recorded incredible! (1999) a live album at the San Francisco Festival featuring none other than his idol Jimmy Smith, with whom he recorded two compositions. Five years later, in 2004, he released Legacyalso with Jimmy Smith which, by the way, was the last album recorded by this artist.
Joey was a very active artist, but also prolific in discographic terms. In fact, the rhythmic force that he drew from the Hammond together with his solos, so full of vigor and creativity, made him an unbeatable musician on stage. His concerts were true parties that seemed never to end.
He got tired of winning the Down Beat polls in the organist category and in 2014 entered the Hall of Fame of the Hammond organ and in 2016, on the Philadelphia Music Walk.
His activity had decreased since 2014, but he continued with his shows and recordings, although in a more measured way. Specifically, on August 14 he played in Baltimore and tomorrow, August 27, he was scheduled to perform at the Lewinson Jazz Festival in New York, which seems to indicate that his death was surprising. No further official details have been released yet.
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Reference from clarin www.clarin.com