Remembering Joey DeFrancesco, pioneering Hammond organist who modified jazz music : NPR

NPR’s Ari Shapiro talks with music critic Nate Chinen in regards to the legacy of iconic jazz Hammond organ participant Joey DeFrancesco, who died on Thursday.


The jazz world has misplaced its preeminent specialist of the Hammond organ. Joey DeFrancesco turned heads for many years, beginning along with his main label debut at age 17.


SHAPIRO: His spouse confirmed the information on social media this morning, however didn’t point out a reason behind dying. He was 51 years previous. Critic Nate Chinen of member station WRTI in Philadelphia is right here to assist us bear in mind DeFrancesco. Thanks for taking the time.

NATE CHINEN, BYLINE: You are most welcome.

SHAPIRO: What made his music stand out?

CHINEN: Nicely, he was simply an unbelievable virtuoso, . And the Hammond organ is that this very distinctive instrument. You understand, while you’re behind the console of an organ, you actually have the ability of an orchestra. And so once I take into consideration his enjoying, I take into consideration this simply locomotive drive, and on the similar time, unbelievable, nearly unprecedented finesse. You understand, he was simply such an unbelievable technician. However he paired that with this glorious feeling for connection and, , at all times deeply rooted within the blues.


SHAPIRO: That mixture of technical talent and magnificence.

CHINEN: Very a lot so. You understand, he was a scholar of the instrument, actually understood the languages of, , everybody from Jimmy Smith, considered one of his heroes, to Larry Younger to Shirley Scott. You understand, he actually knew all people and absorbed all of it at a really younger age, after which fully synthesized it and took the language of the instrument additional. You understand, he was a pioneer in that sense.

SHAPIRO: You are primarily based in Philadelphia, and he had roots there. Inform us about it.

CHINEN: Joey DeFrancesco was – and this isn’t an exaggeration – Philly jazz royalty.


CHINEN: His father, “Papa” John DeFrancesco, who remains to be with us, was an completed organ participant developing. And so Joey discovered firsthand. He is a second-generation Philly jazz organist. He discovered not solely from his dad, but in addition from native gamers like Shirley Scott and Trudy Pitts and, , got here up with a technology of gamers that included bassist Christian McBride and Questlove and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. So, , he was somebody that the scene was watching from a really younger age, , actually like 9, 10 years previous. And he fulfilled that promise in a short time.


SHAPIRO: And the way produce other musicians and followers responded to the information at present?

CHINEN: You understand, everyone seems to be devastated. It is actually, actually troublesome as a result of, , as you famous, he was solely 51, and in addition a musician actually universally beloved, not only for his artistry, but in addition for his presence and his heat and character, only a actually fantastic, ebullient man who made each musical state of affairs really feel that a lot brighter, , simply gave it a carry.


CHINEN: And likewise, , indisputably the best kind of grasp of his technology on this instrument, , somebody that we had been actually seeking to as a North Star. And so it is a super sense of loss that everybody feels proper now.

SHAPIRO: That is Nate Chinen from WRTI in Philadelphia, remembering Joey DeFrancesco. Thanks, Nate.

CHINEN: My pleasure.

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