Part III

The 18th-century wit Samuel Johnson compared the novelty of a woman preacher in those days to a dog walking on its hind legs: ”It is not done well,” he said, ”but you are surprised to find it done at all.” DeFrancesco summons forth similar thoughts in Part III. Who expected to see the rise of a white 20-year-old recording his third album on the Hammond B3 organ in an idiom perfected in the ’50s and ’60s by Jimmy Smith and subsequently associated with the ”chitlin circuit,” those small clubs in black neighborhoods where organ-tenor combos often reigned? Not that DeFrancesco lacks talent. He’s got a good ear and skillful technique. Yet this very long album is largely superficial and often dull, especially when DeFrancesco indulges himself by overdubbing his own trumpet solos. Self-indulgence is rampant: ”Dr. Jekyll” is too fast really to work; ”If I Were a Bell” is too virtuosic to suggest any feeling. In liner notes, Leonard Feather insists that we should ignore DeFrancesco’s age. How is that possible? It’s only the novelty that makes him marketable. If he were 35 and black, Columbia would probably have never signed him or released this album. C

Part III
  • Music