Joey DeFrancesco

Finger Poppin: Celebrating the Music of Horace Silver

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As Joey DeFrancesco has switched from the standard Hammond B-3 to the Diversi clone organ, you'd hardly notice how the subtle differences in each instrument affect his playing style. However, this recording reflects a very rich, warm feeling manifested not only in his approach, but via the music he is playing -- a celebration of songs written by Horace Silver. Tom Harrell (former bandmate of Silver, exclusively on the fl├╝gelhorn) and Tim Warfield (tenor sax only) were recruited to keep the embers glowing but not flaming on, while longtime DeFrancesco drummer Byron Landham also utilizes the utmost of restraint and taste. This is not the fiery Horace Silver sound stoked by drummer Roy Brooks, but a respectful tribute to Silver's bands, with several well-chosen old favorites and two discernible off the beaten path selections. DeFrancesco's secondary role in the background is telling on classic tracks like "Strollin'," with its naturally easygoing mood supporting Warfield's deliberate, overly careful phrasings, or the sly, slow groove of "The Jody Grind," where a bit of imperfection crops up in the main melody line. Similarly imprecise is the rushed version of the title track, a bit too fast in hard bop fashion. The rest of the recording compares well with Silver's original takes, as "Swingin' the Samba" sports a popping beat approaching Mexicali swapping with Brazilian, the shuffle blues "Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty" has no problems or pressure, and "Peace" -- the ultimate ballad -- is lovingly caressed by Harrell's fl├╝gelhorn. At over 11 minutes in length, "The African Queen" is as compelling as the original in its up-and-down dynamics; however, it's still a bit cautiously rendered. An ever popular piece, "Filthy McNasty" is a fairly simple tune, but done with more fire than the others via great communion between Warfield and Harrell. There's no reservation in stating it's commendable that organist DeFrancesco did pianist Silver's tunes with such respect and alacrity, but considering this was done in one shot on one day, perhaps additional takes would have yielded maximum results. It's a good recording nonetheless, and one DeFrancesco fans will enjoy.

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