It’s Tuesday 8am; I hop into my car and pop in this jazz disc I’ve been slated to review. I read the cover, Joey DeFrancesco Organic Vibes. At first I’m thinking gourd shakers and hollowed-out tree stumps for drums, but as “The Tackle” kicks up, I hear what the title means. The track takes off quick with a vibraphone (vibes) intro by Bobby Hutcherson, while the rest of the band are hot on his heels; George Coleman and Ron Blake blast in with saxophones, crashing in next to them on the drums is Byron Landham, and rounding out the band are Jake Langley guitar and Mr. DeFrancesco himself on the Hammond B-3 organ. “Little B’s Poem”, with a sweet-sounding flute opening, keeps the momentum going; by the end of the track I’m grooving and finger poppin’ (that means I like it).
“I Thought About You” slows down quite a bit, but that’s all right because I’ll drive slower. I dig the groove; this jam is perfect for the remaining short cruise down the boulevard. As I pull into the parking stall, I realize that I’ve only heard a third of this album on a 25-minute drive. Then, in my mind’s eye, pops up that picture of my pal Fumo from The Masked Movie Snobs masthead saying, “Wha’d ya expect? It’s jazz, baby”. In fact, it’s good jazz and like all good jazz it can not be rushed. These aren’t three-minute pop songs manufactured to get the teenies up and shaking that “thang”; these are works of love and art, a true craft. Anyway, I’ll have to continue on the drive home or later, which is cool because that last tune has put me in a mellow mood, and I can start the workday feeling like some jazz-bo “hepster”.
Well, so much for a mellow workday. It’s Wednesday and the drive home is where I pick back up, not that I’ve been at work for the whole time but… on with the review.
“Somewhere in the Night” and “Down the Hatch” continue in the same mellow vain; both solid tunes but track six sticks out more for me. “Speak Low” starts with a slow sax intro. It rapidly changes tempo and begins to jump but then slows right back down, only to pick up again; repeating this pattern for the remainder of the track, which has the band on fire. I swear that’s smoke coming from the CD player, but I drive on riding this jazz roller coaster down Pacific Coast Highway, the royal road. As the track flies along, I fly right with it past the light I was supposed to turn on. Oh well, more time for jazz. With horns blaring and drums thumping, this is definitely the stand-out cut on this album and my favorite track; a true tribute to masters of the past like Lionel Hampton or my Pop’s favorite, The Jazz Crusaders.
“JeNeane’s Dream” and “My Foolish Heart” are two slow songs with a light, easy feeling and the band is back in a mellow mood; which is fine with me, because it snaps me out of that driving mad frenzy, allowing me to get me home safely, always a plus. “Colleen” is the mid-tempo tune that closes out this CD and has the band taking their turns at solos, giving us one last listen at their talents and at how good they truly are.
Joey DeFrancesco has put together a tight, solid band, and turned out a great album; it shows in the way they play, feeding off one another and following the music where it takes them; again, the way jazz should be. This is one disk I know I’ll be playing for a while; maybe I should take it out of the car though. Who am I kidding? It’ll be on constantly for at least another week, and I’ll be spinning “Speak Low” over and over again. So clear the decks! Here comes Fantasma el jazz-bo!