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ALBUM REVIEWS : Jimmy Smith Licks by a Baby-Faced Organist : *** JOEY DE FRANCESCO "Where Were You?" CBS

August 12, 1990|DON HECKMAN

Hard-swinging, baby-faced organist Joey De Francesco has been saddled on half the tracks of this new release with a completely unnecessary big band. Despite the presence of such names as Wallace Roney, Milt Hinton, Jerome Richardson and Warren Covington in the large ensemble, De Francesco sounds best on the pieces in which his Jimmy Smith-styled licks have a chance to establish some momentum.

On "Georgia on My Mind," for example, De Francesco plays a soaring, rhythmically energized solo completely at odds with the stilted big-band chart that accompanies him. Far better integrated are two loosely swinging small ensemble tracks--"But Not for Me" and "Red Top"--that feature the still-vibrant tenor saxophone of Illinois Jacquet, as well as an appealing De Francesco original, "Song for My Mother."

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