Friday Spotlight on a Master - Joey Defrancesco

If there is one single concept I'm celebrating here it's authentic mastery of of a subject. That is, looking so deeply so as to become enveloped by a subject and it becomes part of you. Whether it's fly fishing, music, art, cooking etc. I love to get to know things on the highest level possible. Some might call it obsession, other might see it as unhealthy but I see it as the true embodiment of  Thoreau's call to live deliberately. 

Today I'm profiling one of the masters of the B3 who really lives and breathes his instrument - Joey Defrancesco. An important thing to note is that to truly experience his mastery of the subject you really do NEED to see it live. Why?

He plays the B3 through a Leslie speaker. The Leslie speaker spins around and spews sound in a 360 rotating spiral of awesomeness and you simply CANNOT reproduce it on a record. The way the sound hits your ears can only be experienced in person. I used to carry a Leslie speaker for my guitar rig back in my hippie jam band days. I've spent many hours just staring at it spewing sound into the room and being shocked at what it sounds like in person and what it sounds like on tape. Totally different things. 

I was lucky to see a double organ battle between Joey and Columbus organ master Tony Monaco probably in the early 2000s. The set up was two organs, four Leslie speakers, a drummer and guitarist in a small club (the 501) that oddly enough had a bunch of my original artwork hanging on the wall, most of which disappeared when the club went out of business. It was truly an amazing night of music. They jumped, humped and literally rocked the organs into the wee hours of the morning and generally drove the place mad with their swirling speakers and heavy percussive attack.

You see, the inside of the organ and the Leslie are analog. Pure soldered analog goodness. The organ It involves magnets and spinning tone bars and some serious engineering to make them produce a sound, and in my most honest opinion there is no way to reproduce the organs internals digitally either.  You can come close, but it's never going to be right. Int he same way that paintings never look the same on a monitor. Together the speaker and the organ are truly an in person only experience, and to see two battling each other in double whammy was truly, amazing.

The internals of the Leslie speaker are shown below. The horn in the top spins and shoots sound around the room in ways you could only imagine. The doppler effect produces a slight shift in tone when it comes and goes so it produces a wobbling vibrating effect. 

The internals of the B3 feature a tone wheel with magnets and the little sliders on the organ move the magnets in and out to change the tone of each wheel. A purely analog device.

Joey and His trio.

Here is a few tunes of Joey and Tony playing together with both of trios in 2002... Not the show I saw but very similar in terms of level passion and energy. Complete mastery and authenticity at it's spice up this gloomy Friday morning. Paty on.


Here's a greta studio version of Joey doing Misty... some people hat this tune because it is such a standard in school jazz programs. But I love it nonetheless.






1 comment

Mike Sepelak

NOTHING sounds like a Leslie. Our organist, back in “the day”, had one and it gave us a sound unlike any of the gaggle of other garage bands around. Thanks for that flashback.

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