On Thursday, Joey DeFrancesco passed away, his wife announced on social media. He was instrumental in reintroducing the Hammond organ to jazz. He was 51.
The one she called “the love of my life” is “at peace with the angels now,” she said. Now, I find myself at a loss for words. We appreciate the many expressions of sympathy and solidarity. “Joey was very fond of all of you.”
View this post on Instagram
Joey DeFrancesco was born in Springfield, Pennsylvania, on April 10, 1971. However, he has spent most of his life in Arizona. The Arizona Republic claimed that at age 16, he was signed to Columbia Records.
The newspaper claims that the following year he published his first album, titled “All of Me,” and went on a five-week European tour with jazz legend Miles Davis.
After the tour, Davis asked DeFrancesco to perform keyboards on his album “Amandla,” which was released in 1989.
According to the Times, he has also served as an opening act for Bobby McFerrin and Grover Washington Jr.
Joey DeFrancesco Plays Sinatra His Way is the title of an album Joey DeFrancesco released in 2004.
According to the Times, his 2010 song “Never Can Say Goodbye” was an homage to Michael Jackson’s songs. The report claims he also recorded CDs with Van Morrison and guitarist Danny Gatton.
Joey DeFrancesco, the preeminent ace of the Hammond B-3 organ for more than 30 years, died on Thursday. He was 51. https://t.co/94ha62QFIA
— NPR Music (@nprmusic) August 26, 2022
NPR noted that “Papa” John DeFrancesco, DeFrancesco’s father, has been active as a jazz organist in the Philadelphia area since the 1950s.
His namesake and grandfather, Joseph DeFrancesco, was a saxophonist and clarinetist in upstate New York’s swing band scene in the 1930s. NPR says that Johnny, his elder brother, is a blues musician.
When Joey DeFrancesco was only an adolescent, he started getting a lot of praise for his work.
Gene Seymour of The Philadelphia Daily News observed Joey DeFrancesco and the Settlement Jazz Ensemble in 1986, writing, “(Joey) DeFrancesco — whose infectious, imp-of-the-perverse expressions make him as much fun to watch as listen to — can stride, flatten fifths, and string together quotes from Bird, Diz, Monk, and Miles with the polished resourcefulness of the eight-year veteran that he is.” And the whole while you’re watching and listening, a little voice in your head keeps repeating, “He’s 15 years old!”
The trumpet, saxophone, piano, and synthesizer were among the other instruments DeFrancesco could play. The Times noted that he had built his career using a vintage Hammond B3 organ.
He told The Release Dates in 1991, “You can’t top the sound of the B3.” “I adore the synths and play all that stuff,” he said.
The instrument’s tone, I’m told, is very comforting. It has contrasting elements. Those feelings are inherent to it. There are snippets of just about every musical instrument in there. Puts a whole orchestra at your disposal.
Executive director of the downtown Phoenix jazz club where DeFrancesco often performed, Joel Goldenthal, stated, “simply no way to put your brain around this tragedy.”
A very excellent human being, indeed. Goldenthal said to the Republic that “he was incomparable.” However, that is much too kind a term. Nobody had ever been or will be as skilled on any instrument as he was.