JazzTimes (p.50) - "DeFrancesco and company end the album with a smoking soul-jazz workup of 'Billie Jean.'"
Personnel: Joey DeFrancesco (trumpet, piano, organ); Paul Bollenback (electric guitar, nylon-string guitar); Pat Bianchi (keyboards); Byron Landham (drums); Carmen Intorre (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Glenn Ferracone.
Liner Note Author: Donald Elfman.
Recording information: Music Centre, Exton, PA (06/05/2010/06/06/2010).
Coming after his tribute to the iconic jazz pianist Horace Silver, Joey DeFrancesco's tribute to the music of Michael Jackson might seem something of a surprise, perhaps even exploitive as its release followed Jackson's death by just over a year. But for DeFrancesco it's always come down to the song -- which melodies might best suit his style, a cross between traditional and progressive -- and if anyone had a knack for a tune it was Michael Jackson. DeFrancesco -- who plays not only his usual Hammond B-3 but other organs, piano, and trumpet on the recording -- sticks largely to material from Jackson's solo career here, with an emphasis on Thriller (five of the nine songs), using the original song structures as takeoff points. DeFrancesco's interpretations reference Jackson's originals but depart from them substantially enough that they never feel like copies, and at times he and the band expand far outside of the basic chordal boundaries Jackson set down. More than anything, DeFrancesco appears to be having fun with this set (he even sings a couple). And when he and the band (guitarist Paul Bollenback is on fire) get cooking, as they do more often than not -- some of these tracks ("Billie Jean," "Rock with You," "Beat It") seriously rock -- it's hard not to get caught up in the party atmosphere. ~ Jeff Tamarkin