City Rhythm Orchestra feat. Joey de Francesco in our new TV show @ LCATV

All  Music Review by Alex Henderson 

Edition, adaptation and comments by Toni Basanta from Fairfax, Vermont USA

“With so many of the great Soul Jazz / Hard Bop organists of the ’60s having passed away

including Jimmy Smith, Charles Earland, Shirley Scott, Richard “Groove” Holmes, and

Jack McDuffJoey DeFrancesco has become, by default, the “Young Lion” who Jazz

enthusiasts expect to carry on that Smith-based tradition.

That isn’t to say that DeFrancesco is a “replacement” for any those greats — who were

irreplaceable –– or that talented explorers like John Medeski and Barbara Dennerlein

shouldn’t be celebrated.

But Medeski and Dennerlein represent a post – Smith, Larry

Young  -influenced approach to Jazz Organ playing, whereas DeFrancesco remains firmly

rooted in the classic Smith / McDuff / Holmes way of doing things.

And DeFrancesco‘s  Soul Jazz aesthetic serves the City Rhythm Orchestra (a Philadelphia-

based Big Band) consistently well on Vibrant Tones, a two-disc set that features him

extensively as a guest soloist.

While the first disc is a 73-minute audio CD that was recorded in a New York studio in

2001, the second disc is an hour-long DVD that was recorded live at Wiggin Park in

Camden, New Jersey  ( just  across the Delaware River from Philly )  in 2003.

In both settings, DeFrancesco‘s  presence makes Vibrant Tones more than a Hard Bop

release ; it makes it  relevant to both Hard Bop and Soul – Jazz  enthusiasts —  joining

the funkiness of the Count Basie / Thad Jones / Quincy Jones  Big Band

tradition  with the funkiness of Jimmy Smith and his numerous disciples.

This isn’t the type of Jazz  that goes out of its way to be cerebral, angular, or complex;

the groove factor is quite  strong whether  the City Rhythm Orchestra and DeFrancesco

are turning their attention  to Basie‘s  “Blues in Hoss’ Flat,”  Rudy Toombs‘ “One Mint

Julep,”  Horace Silver‘s “Señor   Blues,” or Neal Hefti‘s “Whirly Bird.”

It isn’t very often that Smith-rooted organ playing is  heard in a Big Band setting, as

Soul Jazz is generally a small-group phenomenon — and  Vibrant Tones  is a release that

both Big Band and Soul Jazz enthusiasts will find rewarding.


More about City Rhythm Orchestra CD  and  DVD

One of today’s hottest Big Bands teams with the modern master of the Hammond B3 organ Joey DeFrancesco for an incredible display of sizzling brass, innovative arrangements and dazzling solos.

This new studio session features many fine soloists, and arranger Joe Matt has written rich charts that show off the band while leaving plenty of space for Joey’s artistry to shine.

Also included is a 60-minute DVD of the ensemble’s 2003 summer Jazz Festival show.

The package artwork was created by internationally renowned artist Giancarlo Impiglia.


My comment

An unequal CD / DVD recorded Live in a spirit of tribute and celebration !!!!!

Expect two more postings, one trying to follow and describe the Joey DeFrancesco story, and another for The City Rhythm Orchestra a Big Band from Philadelphia, with a considerable discography  performed by a crackerjack constellation of soloists and  singers.

In our radio show, The Cuban Bridge at St. Michael’s College  92.5 FM “The Mike”,  the album was well-received when I played it there.  (

Thanks to Peter Spina and Nick Vallerio for the opportunity to present their Live performance  at The Wiggin Park in Camden, New Jersey,  to our growing viewers audience.

Toni Basanta

DJ Host of Havana Fairfax Connection our new TV show @ LCATV Channel 15 in Colchester, Vermont, the Green Mountain State in the United States of America.



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