Joey DeFrancesco was a talented multi-instrumentalist, best known for his organ playing but also a skilled trumpeter, saxophonist, and occasional singer. He was widely credited with reviving the use of the Hammond B3 organ in modern jazz during from the 1980s onward. DeFrancesco began his career at the young age of 17, touring with Miles Davis and went on to perform with Christian McBride, Van Morrison, John McLaughlin, Diana Krall and many others. Throughout his career he explored the multiple styles of jazz including soul-jazz, hard bop, and advanced modal styles. He released over 30 albums as leader and received numerous accolades, including Grammy nominations, Jazz Association Awards, and recognition in the DownBeat Jazz Critics poll. Sadly, DeFrancesco died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 2022 at the age of 51.
Joey DeFrancesco was one of the two youngest musicians ever recruited to play in any of Miles Davis' ensembles. Joey DeFrancesco played the role of "Frank D" in the 2009 film "Moonlight Serenade" starring Amy Adams. Joey DeFrancesco was inducted into the Hammond Organ Hall of Fame in 2014.
Joey DeFrancesco was born in Philadelphia in 1971, into a musical family that included 3 generations of jazz musicians. His father “Papa” John was a well known organist in Philadelphia jazz circles and his grandfather had worked with the Dorsey Brothers. DeFrancesco started playing the organ at age 4 and within a year could perform Jimmy Smith songs from memory. He soon began accompanying his father to gigs and played first professional gig at age 10. He attended the Settlement Music School from ages 9 to 14 and went on to study at Philadelphia's High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, where he met other talented young musicians including Christian McBride, Kurt Rosenwinkle and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson. While in high school he was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition and he scored his first record deal before graduating. Immediately after graduation, DeFrancesco was hired to go on tour with Miles Davis.