Papa John DeFrancesco, A Philadelphia Story

Posted on March 24, 2011 by

Artist: ‘Papa’ John DeFrancesco
Title: A Philadelphia Story
Label: Savant 2112
Release Date: March 22, 2011

Devotees of soul jazz records made by the great B-3 players like “Groove” Holmes, Jimmy Smith, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Brother Jack McDuff, run out to your local record dealer and immediately grab this new disc by ‘Papa John’ DeFrancesco. It’s like steppin’ back to 1972.

DeFrancesco’s choice of covers are retro as well, opening the disc with a version of the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” and then sliding into a slinky version of Cream’s “Strange Brew,” basing it on the guitar riff Clapton lifted from Albert King.

The CD is mostly a trio of ‘Papa’ John on the B-3, along with John Jr. on guitar and Glenn Ferracone, his drummer for the last ten-plus years. Joe Fortunato add some tenor sax on Oscar Pettiford’s “Blues In Orbit” and Joey DeFrancesco, John’s other son, blows the trumpet on the opening track and on the Jimmy Webb classic ballad, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.”

“Phoenix” is the only ballad on the CD, it mostly swings along never venturing into hard bop, relaying more on r&b grooves. The closing song, the album’s title track is an excursion into blues with both senior and junior DeFrancesco stretching out. This is also one of the two originals on the CD, the other being, “Dr. Mike,” an ode to ‘Papa’s’ personal physician.

John Jr.’s guitar work on the Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing” ignites with chunky funk chops and then steps on wah-wah pedal. His versatility is apparent when he slips into a thumb-heavy version of “You Are My Sunshine,” slightly reminiscent of the great Wes Montgomery.

“This album is a Thang!” to quote Lou Donaldson.

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2 Responses to “Papa John DeFrancesco, A Philadelphia Story”

  1. Chuck Anderson says:

    I notice they showed a cheese steak with Provolone and not Whiz.

  2. Chuck, I’m assuming it was at Dr. Mike’s request that Papa shifts to the low-fat cheeses.

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