Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A night with Joey D, his phenomenal B3 and maybe a crystal ball!

Photo courtesy of Janet Jardine
For quite some time in the early 2000s I was an 'Orbit Room Girl'.The Orbit Room is one of the very FEW places anywhere that has an original B3 Organ. Its a musicians bar. Only those serious about music, and fun, go to The Orbit, and only the best play there. I hung out at Orbit A LOT. It was at The Orbit Room that I first saw Joey DeFrancesco dazzle on the keys. The LAST time I saw him, he was battling on the B3's with Brian Auger and his Bolivian Express at The Mod Club. That was WAY back in 2005. AWESOME night!!! Unfortunately,  I just haven't been able to catch any of Joey's other gigs since then. Something I have always regretted. But then JazzFM came along and convinced Joey D to perform alongside The JazzFM Youth Big Band as part of the Sound Of Jazz Concert Series at The Old Mill. Well,  actually, I doubt it took much convincing. Joey has always been incredible at encouraging the younger generations. Handsome Man had never seen Joey live so we grabbed tix right away. As usual we were Keeners, arriving second in line to only one couple. While waiting, Marty and the other new friends we made at the Dick Hyman Sound of Jazz performance showed up, and wonderful music discussions unfolded. But in reality,  we were all just chomping at the bit, waiting to get in to hear Joey. What we didn't expect, all of us that is except the first couple in line, was that Joey would be taking a back seat that night.

I have seen the future (of Jazz) and its name is Felix, and Cody, and Justin, and Luka, and.....              

I went to the Old Mill that day expecting Joey, as usual, to blow me away. And he did. But the real story of the night was the JazzFM Youth Big Band.
The couple who had been even bigger Keeners than Handsome Man and I joined us at our table. They turned out to be the parents of twin boys in the band, Luka (bass) and Teo (drums) Srnic. I have to admit, the parents were so sweet that I leaned over and whispered to Handsome Man to be prepared to think of nice things to say about their boys musical abilities. But then, as they say, the band began to play. I repeatedly had to remind myself that these were KIDS. They were EXTRAORDINARY!!

I should have expected it. Before the show started, during sound check, Joey had the young trumpet player Cody come up and prep for his eventual solo. Handsome Man and I were sitting about 2 feet from them, at MOST. Joey told Cody repeatedly how impressed he was with him and that he had a great future in Jazz. Joey is a sweetheart, but he doesn't throw out empty compliments, especially when it comes to music. If Joey thought this kid was good, then he was GREAT! 

But one musician does not a band make. 



Zachary kickin' it! Courtesy of Janet Jardine
And this is DEFINITELY a band. They gelled and swang. Every single one of them is talented and knows what they were doing. Thanks in no small part to Jules Estrin. Hand picking the group from auditions each fall, he then teaches and grooms them, producing a band of such high caliber as to stun the audience. And, as was mentioned that night, all these kids then go back to the music programs in their own individual schools and mentor other budding young stars. I had known of the Youth Big Band, thought it was a wonderful idea, but this was my first experience listening to them. I discovered that there are those in the band for whom I'm sure I'll be able to say, ''I saw them when''. 

The twins did not need 'kind words' from Handsome Man and I. They were both SOLID and kept the band locked in, just as they should. When Cody played, with glowing comparisons by Joey D to Miles Davis, he earned every ounce of that respect. Zachary on guitar was shockingly advanced, it was unbelievable to find out he'd been with the band just a few months. Everyone was incredible, and there was NO WAY they could be better. 

Or so I thought

But then Jules, making apologies to Joey, mentioned they had their own guy on keys. 

And brought up Felix.

Introverted but highly expressive, Felix sat at the keys and made me feel that I was seeing the re-birth of Glen Gould.  He was to play one song. Joey would have none of that. Felix remained at the keys in one manner or another for the rest of the show. Joey now and then guiding him, tweaking the knobs on the nord keyboard, or looking over at his wife, grinning ear to ear, knowing the torch would soon be passed. Felix was in HEAVEN alongside Joey, absorbing everything he saw Joey's lightning quick fingers do. Never have I heard such exceptional music, and felt such love and mutual admiration in one place. 

I always knew Joey was incredible as a musician. His sheer joy playing alongside these 'kids' showed me, and everyone in attendance, his beauty as a person.  

And showed his smarts, 
'cause one day, not too soon in the future, he may be playing keys on one of THEIR albums! 

Kudos Joey

Kudos JazzFM


STANDING O to JazzFM Youth Big Band!!!!!!!

Felix in Awe of Joey, who was in turn in Awe of Felix!! Photo courtesy of Janet Jardine

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