In the early 1990s, an American, Joey DeFrancesco, who had ruled as jazz’s undeniable maestro for more than 30 years, sent the deeply embracing sound of the Hammond B-3 organ roaring back into jazz’s mainstream. He was just 51 years old. On the morning of August 25, the world lost him. His manager and wife posted a social media notice about his passing but did not provide any details.
He was born in Philadelphia and raised there. At ten, DeFrancesco joined a band in Philadelphia that featured jazz performers Hank Mobley and Philly Joe Jones. He went the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. He intended to study the piano and organ there.
Early in his career, he collaborated with Miles Davis; later, he worked with various musicians, including Van Morrison, Pharoah Sanders, and Diana Krall. He was a multi-talented individual who occasionally sang in addition to playing the trumpet. At 16, Joey DeFrancesco signed his first recording agreement with Columbia Records. He revived the organ in jazz music through the release of his debut album, “All of Me,” in the 1980s. His father and grandfather were musicians, and his brother John, who plays blues guitar, was also an artist, soJoey DeFrancesco was naturally creative.
DeFrancesco’s tenor saxophone has been featured in recent live performances, including one just this past Tuesday at Baltimore’s renowned Keystone Korner and his most recent album, More Music (2021). DeFrancesco was a tremendous force with a cheerful personality and an innovative musical approach. He will be dearly missed.
Joey DeFrancesco won the DownBeat Critics Poll for organ nine times, was nominated for four Grammy Awards, won several JazzTimes Awards, and was the first nominee into the Hammond Hall of Fame.
Ashley Blue Defrancesco, daughter and his lovely wife Gloria Defrancesco are his only surviving family members. At the time of his passing, Joey DeFrancesco’s estimated net worth was $2 million. He earned a living as a trumpeter, saxophonist in jazz bands, and occasionally as a singer.