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Joey DeFrancesco Honors the Late Jimmy Smith @ Yoshi's

Joey DeFrancesco.

Organist and NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Smith died in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Feb. 8, 2005. His death came a mere 10 days prior to his date at Yoshi's club in Oakland, Calif., with Joey DeFrancesco. Born 40 years apart near Philadelphia, Jimmy and Joey became quite a pair. Jimmy was the boss, the man, the cat, the champ, and Joey with his flying fingers is the protégé. Together, the two of them had released a CD entitled Legacy, and the week at Yoshi's was to be a release party.

The sweet, silly and swinging Mr. James Moody drops in as a guest on flute and tenor. And another celebrity comes out of the audience to the drums. He's a jazz fan from Philadelphia who's made his career improvising with words -- funny words! He likes Jell-O. Thursday nights on NBC belonged to him in the 1990s. Give up? Scroll on.

For all the fun, this show is a sad good-bye. The late Jimmy Smith relished his grip on his audiences. In an interview with NPR not long before his death, he used metaphors like raising the ante in a poker game, having the audience in the palm of his hand and not letting go, speaking to them with that "funky ass feeling" that he had. Those are his words, and so are these: "I want to feel everything, I want your dreams, I want everything. I want to know who you went to bed with last night, and was it good? I want you to feel it."

Making a connection that strong with the audience is a challenge, along with a legacy, from Jimmy Smith to Joey DeFrancesco and the current generation of jazz musicians.

Opening theme: "The Sermon" written and played by Jimmy Smith (1958)
"I'll Be Seeing You/Mack the Knife," featuring the Erroll Garner piano style, as adapted by Jimmy Smith to the organ, and carried forward by Joey DeFrancesco (Fain/Kahal and Blitzstein/Brecht/Weill)
"Legacy" (Joey DeFrancesco)
"Wave" (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
"When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (traditional, arr. DeFrancesco)
Closing theme: "The Sermon" played by Joey DeFrancesco (2005)

Joey DeFrancesco - organ
Jake Langley - guitar
Byron Landham - drums
Guest James Moody - flute and tenor
Guest Bill Cosby - drums


  • Legacy, the new CD from Joey and Jimmy

  • Jimmy Smith, NEA Jazz Master biography

  • NPR Remembers Jimmy Smith

  • Joey DeFrancesco

  • Yoshi's in Oakland


    Our recording is by Phil Edwards with Brian Edwards and Earl Pitman.

    Thanks to Dan Pettit and Peter Williams at Yoshi's, also to NPR's Benjamin K. Roe and Suraya Mohamed for interviewing Jimmy Smith.

    Our technical director is Duke Markos, producer Becca Pulliam, executive producer Thurston Briscoe III at Jazz 88, WBGO in Newark.

    Host is Dee Dee Bridgewater, who urges you to get out and hear some live music this week!

    Copyright 2007 NPR