Joey DeFrancesco's first Hammond organ

"I’d heard Jimmy Smith records before, but never saw or played the instrument itself until my father brought an organ home..."
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As a toddler, Joey De Francesco first picked out melodies on a toy piano, then at the age of four, the iconic jazz organist encountered his signature instrument. “My father played organ on a steady gig in Philadelphia,” says Joey. “I’d heard Jimmy Smith records before, but never saw or played the instrument itself until he brought an organ home.” Though Joey was too small at the time to reach the pedals, everything about the organ intrigued him. “Sliding the drawbars in and out to make different sounds, playing with the reverse-color keys, using the rocker switches for percussion, vibrato and chorus, and turning the Leslie on and off—there were so many fascinating things about it. Any little kid you put in front of one of those things is going to have a good time playing it.” Joey vividly remembers that first Hammond experience as a major turning point in his musical growth. “It felt like the sun was shining down and I was seeing cartoon colors,” he says. “I still feel that excitement and wonder to this day.” For more on Joey, visit joeydefrancesco.com. Photo by Tracy Ketcher.

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