One Take – Volume Four – Alma Records ACD11912, 54:52 ****½:
(Joey DeFrancesco – Hammond B-3 organ; Vito Rezza – drums; Robi Botos – piano, Fender Rhodes; Phil Dwyer – tenor saxophone)
Joey Defrancesco has always been regarded as the real deal. Signed to Columbia Records at seventeen, he has recorded and toured with Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, George Benson, John Scofield and David Sanborn. DeFrancesco’s familiarity with the One Take series dates back to 2003. Encouraging artists to record sessions completely unrehearsed, in one take (without any overdubbing), the exuberance of jazz is contemplated in the instinctual acumen of the contributors. A trio of Canadians, Robi Botos (James Blood Ulmer, Vernon Reid, Chaka Khan), Phil Dwyer (Aretha Franklin,, Gino Vanelli, Randy Brecker), and Vito Rezza (Joni Mitchell, John Lee Hooker, Michael Brecker), completed the all star ensemble.
One Take: Volume Four gets off to a rousing start on the Isham Jones/Marty Stymes classic, “There Is No Greater Love”. DeFrancesco exclaims, “How we gonna start this?”, as Robi Botos weaves an elegiac piano introduction. Phil Dwyer follows with a flowing tenor saxophone line that becomes a centerpiece. The organ, piano and drums create a tight rhythm section. Then Botos and DeFrancesco cut loose on consecutive solos. This establishes the basic structure of the quartet, alternating improvisational leads with backup play. Drummer, Vito Rezza, runs the gamut of percussion with cymbals, brushes and sticks. “Tenderly” (a staple of the tenor saxophone repertoire), is revived with style by the assured silky play of Dwyer. The addition of Fender Rhodes helps the moody accent, as does the deliberate organ solo. A comparable structure kicks off Disney’s “Alice In Wonderland”, but the quartet infuses tempo changes and emotional intensity in the mix. The piece ends on a very high note with a succession of crisp drum stops. One original composition, “Not That”, shows a playful attitude with blues innuendo and soulful hooks, highlighted by swaggering Hammond phrasing.
The band shakes things up with a percolating straight jazz take on “Village Green”. The rawness of the arrangement explodes with bebop vitality. All four players raise the level of intensity, as they perform with ferocity. Dwyer’s horn work is especially cogent. Not satisfied, the quartet finishes the session with a “fast” number, “Broadway”. DeFrancesco unleashes a relentless torrent of organ runs that sets a blistering pace. Dwyer and Botos respond with equal fury. The unrehearsed format may limit some avenues of exploration. However, One Take: Volume Four is loaded with brilliant musical sketches.
TrackList: There Is No Greater Love; Tenderly; Village Green; Not That; Alice In Wonderland; Broadway
— Robbie Gerson