Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Joey DeFrancesco

Dr. Bob Prescribes Joey DeFrancesco, organ

Live and Learn I have been known to make snide comments about the electric organ. This is an unfortunate artifact of my childhood in the 1950s and 60s, when toy organs made by “Emenee Industries Inc.” (of New York, N.Y.) were everywhere.  They came in different sizes, though the ones I remember were the chord organs (see the illustration above): the buttons on the left side of the thing played simple harmonies to accompany whatever pathetic, wheezing tune was being played on the keys to the right.  It was an instrument so simple and crude as to make its cousin – the accordion – look and sound like a Steinway Concert Grand by comparison.  When I became a jazz freak as a teenager and first listened to the great Jimmy Smith (1925-2005) play jazz organ, I was unimpressed. I still related the sound of Smith’s organ (a Hammond B3, as I later learned) to those Emenee beasties of my childhood, and because the organ is incapable of the sort of punchy, unexpected accentuation (syncopations) that give jazz its polyrhythmic character (its swing), I found Smith’s playing to be rather flaccid.   Alas, the arrogance of youth. My attitude towards jazz […]

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