Papa John DeFrancesco – Desert Heat – Savant SCD

by | Sep 13, 2006 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Papa John DeFrancesco – Desert Heat – Savant SCD 2075, 56:07  ****1/2:

(Artists: Papa John DeFrancesco, Hammond B-3 organ; Joey DeFrancesco, keyboards; Tony Banda, bass; Ramon Banda, drums)

Papa John DeFrancesco has been known for simply too many years as his son’s Joey’s dad, who helped develop Joey from a young phenom into an established Hammond B-3 superstar. Joey established a long friendship with the Hammond icon, Jimmy Smith, and recorded with Jimmy on his last CD before he passed away last year.

Well, Papa John has been in the background too long, and since he moved to the Phoenix area to be near his son and “warm his bones,” his career has had a well deserved boost. This CD will only add to his own well deserved reputation. It is only his seventh CD as a leader and all his recordings have been made for Joe Fields’ labels-Muse, High Note, and Savant. Desert Heat is his third effort for Savant and it is superb.

John is backed by son Joey on keyboards and they bring into the family fold two brothers with super talent as their bassist and drummer, Tony and Ramon Banda. The Banda brothers are well known for from playing in the Latin jazz band fronted by the great Pancho Sanchez. Normally a Hammond session does not feature a bassist due to the fact that the Hammond organ has bass pedals of its own. However, this session benefits from Tony Banda’s contributions as evidenced by the title cut’s walking bass intro by Tony. Joey follows ably on electric piano before his  Dad’s Hammond takes over on this track.

Next, Pokuscabadabra (say that 10 times quickly), a tribute to Warner Bros cartoons establishes the greasy vibe that Hammond lovers crave. A welcome addition to any funky CD, Eddie Harris’ Cold Duck Time, will get your toes tapping and head nodding in time as the band is fully in synch. The dreamy ballad, I’ll Close My Eyes, follows and it is a perfect way to soften the mood and to slow dance to with your honey. Don’t mellow out too much though, as Jeff Lorber’s Tune 88 follows and John and son are back in full funkfest mode.

What Now My Love is given a slow relaxed rendition setting the stage for the classic, The House of the Rising Sun, which is given an emotional Hammond homage to the musicians of New Orleans. The CD is closed aptly by Papa John’s tribute to Joe Fields, his only recording employer, and the executive producer of this CD. Desert Heat is a “keeper”, a CD that provides Hammond heaven with an all star rhythm section!

Songs: Desert Heat, Pokuscabadabra, Cold Duck Time, I’ll Close My Eyes, Tune 88, What Now My Love, The House of the Rising Sun, Fields

– Jeff Krow 

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