Joey DeFrancesco—arguably the greatest jazz organist alive—joins the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for the first time. With two 61-note keyboards, a 25-note bass pedal board controlled by foot, and multiple custom drawbars, the Hammond organ is practically a full band by itself. This expansive instrument is rarely paired with a big band, but it adds a rich new dimension when the musicians are up to the challenge.
Tonight, DeFrancesco and the JLCO will explore two classic records that defied the organ’s typical small group confines and left fans craving more. First up is Duke Ellington’s New Orleans Suite, a lesser-known and delightfully varied repertoire of Ellington excellence. The original recording featured organ only on the gospel-tinged “Blues for New Orleans,” but DeFrancesco and JLCO trombonist Vincent Gardner are excitedly cooking up new arrangements to expand its role. The second half of the show explores Oliver Nelson’s unique take on Peter & The Wolf, a playful suite full of fiery solos by legendary organist Jimmy Smith.
DeFrancesco is one of jazz’s most entertaining and stunningly virtuosic musicians, and he has wanted to play this music with the JLCO for a long time. That dream comes true tonight when the blues-drenched soul of the jazz organ fills Rose Theater.
Free pre-concert discussion nightly at 7pm.