Joey DeFrancesco

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Joey DeFrancesco
Joey DeFrancesco on Oran.jpg
Background information
Born (1971-04-10) April 10, 1971 (age 50)
Springfield, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresJazz, bebop
InstrumentsHammond organ, trumpet, tenor saxophone
Years active1988–present
LabelsBlue Note, Columbia, Concord, Highnote,[1]Muse,[2] Prestige[2]
Associated actsMiles Davis, Papa John DeFrancesco, Jimmy Smith

Joey DeFrancesco (born April 10, 1971) is an American jazz organist, trumpeter, and vocalist.[3] He has released more than 30 albums, including recordings with Miles Davis and Jimmy Smith.[4] DeFrancesco signed his first record deal at the age of 16 and has played internationally with musicians that include David Sanborn, Arturo Sandoval, Larry Coryell, Frank Wess, John McLaughlin, Benny Golson, James Moody, Steve Gadd, Danny Gatton, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Cobb, George Benson, Pat Martino, John Scofield, Joe Lovano, and recorded with musicians that included Ray Charles, Bette Midler and Van Morrison.[5][6][7]

Early life[edit]

DeFrancesco was born in 1971 in Springfield, Pennsylvania.[8] He was born into a musical family that included three generations of jazz musicians. He was named after his grandfather, Joseph DeFrancesco, a jazz musician who played the saxophone and clarinet.[6] His father, "Papa" John DeFrancesco, was an organist who played nationally and received the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame's Living Legend Award in 2013.[9] DeFrancesco began playing the organ at the age of 4 and was playing songs by Jimmy Smith verbatim by the time he was 5. His father John began taking him to gigs from the age of 5, letting him sit in on sets.[10] At the age of 10, DeFrancesco joined a band in Philadelphia that included jazz musicians Hank Mobley and Philly Joe Jones. He was considered a fixture at local jazz clubs, opening shows for Wynton Marsalis and B.B. King.[11]

DeFrancesco attended the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts.[10] During his high school years, DeFrancesco won numerous awards, including the Philadelphia Jazz Society McCoy Tyner Scholarship. He was a finalist in the first Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition.[3]


Joey Defrancesco on the Hammond organ in 2002.

DeFrancesco was 16 years old when he signed an exclusive recording contract with Columbia Records. The following year he released his first record, titled All of Me. His performance on All of Me has been attributed as helping bring back the organ to jazz music during the 1980s.[3] That same year, DeFrancesco joined Miles Davis and his band on a five-week concert tour in Europe.[12] He followed up with playing keyboard on Davis' album Amandla, which reached No. 1 on the Contemporary Jazz Albums chart in 1989.[4] DeFrancesco started playing the trumpet around the same time, inspired by the sound of Davis.[13] DeFrancesco was originally spotted by Davis during a performance on the television show called Time Out.[14] He was performing on the set along with high school classmate Christian McBride when Davis asked the show's host, "what's your organ player's name", referring to DeFrancesco.[14] DeFrancesco's recording deal with Columbia included the release of 5 albums. In addition to All of Me, he released Where Were You in 1990, Part III in 1991, Reboppin in 1992, and Live at the 5 Spot in 1993.

DeFrancesco began touring with his own quartet at the age of 18. In the early 1990s, he began collaborating with John McLaughlin, former guitarist for Miles Davis and Mahavishnu. At the age of 22, he became a founding member of the group The Free Spirits, along with McLaughlin and drummer Dennis Chambers. He toured with the group for 4 years and was part of several recordings, including the albums Tokyo Live and After the Rain.[15] DeFrancesco is also credited with playing trumpet on the Tokyo Live album.[16]

Joey DeFrancesco playing at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam in 2010.

In 1999, DeFrancesco recorded his album Incredible! Live at the San Francisco Jazz Festival.[17] The album featured a performance by his idol Jimmy Smith, who joined DeFrancesco for two songs.[17] In 2004, DeFrancesco recorded Legacy, an album that also featured Jimmy Smith.[17] The album was Smith's last recording; he died the same year.[4]

DeFrancesco was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2004 for his record Falling in Love Again. DeFrancesco's career shifted slightly in 2009 with the film Moonlight Serenade, starring Amy Adams and Alec Newman. He played the role of "Frank D" in the film and was also credited as a composer and producer of the film. DeFrancesco was nominated for another Grammy Award in 2011 for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for Never Can Say Goodbye: The Music of Michael Jackson.[4] The recording was released in 2010 as a tribute to Michael Jackson, another DeFrancesco tribute albums. DeFranccesco also turned 40 in 2011, celebrating by releasing his 29th recording titled 40, which had success both on jazz charts domestically and in Europe.[4]

DeFrancesco's music style has been referred to as a swinging Philly sound which he "embellishes with his own ferocity and improvisation."[14] He played 200-plus nights a year throughout the course of his career, a feat that he cut back on as of 2013.[18] He has received numerous accolades for his performances, including being called the best B3 player on the planet by JazzTimes.[19] The New York Times has described DeFrancesco as a "deeply authoritative musician, a master of rhythmic pocket, and of the custom of stomping bass lines beneath chords and riffs."[1] DeFrancesco has also been involved in product designs and endorsements related to digital organ technology both in the United States and internationally.[20]

Awards and honors[edit]

In addition to Grammy nominations in 2004, 2010, and 2020, DeFrancesco is a 9-time winner of the Down Beat Critics Poll (organ) and has won the Down Beat Readers Poll every year since 2005. He has won a number of JazzTimes Awards.[21] DeFrancesco is an inaugural member of the Hammond Hall of Fame, inducted in 2013 along with other musicians that included Brian Auger, Billy Preston, Steve Winwood, and his mentor Jimmy Smith.[22]


The discography of Joey DeFrancesco consists of albums released on Columbia, Muse, Highnote, Big Mo Records, Concord Jazz, Doodlin' Records, and Mack Avenue.[2]

Personal life[edit]

In addition to his father and grandfather, DeFrancesco's brother Johnny is also a musician.[12]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather, & Brian Priestley. Jazz: The Rough Guide. London: Rough Guides. ISBN 1-85828-528-3
  • Richard Cook & Brian Morton. The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD 6th edition. ISBN 0-14-051521-6


  1. ^ a b Chinen, Nate (October 15, 2010). "Frank and Personal Don't Rule Out Commercial". Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Cordle, Owen (October 1, 2002). "Joey DeFrancesco: The Philadelphia Connection". Jazztimes. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Bogdanov, Vladimir (2002). All Music Guide to Jazz. Backbeat Books. ISBN 9780879307172.
  4. ^ a b c d e Jordan, Mark (January 31, 2012). "DeFrancesco matured from young phenom to jazz music master". Go Memphis. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  5. ^ "DeFrancesco's Jazz Stylings". Brant News. October 14, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Jazz greats to groove". Manawatu Standard. New Zealand. August 16, 2013. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  7. ^ Ragogna, Mike (April 18, 2012). "Look Out Now!: Conversations With the Gaddabouts' Edie Brickell & Steve Gadd, Plus Eric Hutchinson". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  8. ^ Cordova, Randy (March 1, 2009). "First family of jazz for Valley's Joey DeFrancesco, musical heritage goes way back". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  9. ^ "Papa John DeFrancesco". Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Lloyd, Jack (December 16, 1994). "Family Harmony in a Jazz Quartet". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  11. ^ Moon, Tom (June 19, 1989). "Riff of Success at 18, Joey DeFrancesco Has TouredWith Miles Davis and Recorded a Major-label Album". Jazz Times. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  12. ^ a b Nelson, Nels (August 30, 1991). "Our Pal Joey Has Grown Up DeFrancesco Comes To Penn's Landing". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  13. ^ Early, Gerald Lyn (2001). Miles Davis and American Culture. Missouri History Museum. ISBN 9781883982386.
  14. ^ a b c Wyckoff, Geraldine (September 2003). "Joey DeFrancesco: Philadelphia Flyer". Jazz Times. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  15. ^ Heckman, Don (June 19, 1994). "Jazz Spotlight – The Free Spirits Featuring John McLaughlin". The L.A. Times. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  16. ^ Kolosky, Walter (November 20, 2002). "John McLaughlin and The Free Spirits: Tokyo Live (1993)". All About Jazz. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  17. ^ a b c Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 363. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  18. ^ Reid, Graham (August 16, 2013). "Joey DeFrancesco: Always going to be this way". Elsewhere. New Zealand. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  19. ^ Milkowski, Bill (October 28, 2012). "Joey DeFrancesco – Wonderful! Wonderful!". Jazz Times. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  20. ^ Kolosky, Walter (2004). Girls Don't Like Real Jazz: A Jazz Patriot Speaks Out. Abstract Logix. ISBN 9780976101604.
  21. ^ Prater, Sadie (October 30, 2003). "Jazz Great Joey DeFrancesco To Perform at U.T. Dallas on Nov. 15". UT Dallas. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  22. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff (December 23, 2013). "Hammond Organ Launches Hall of Fame, Inducts 1st Members". Jazz Times. Retrieved March 14, 2014.

External links[edit]