Hammond B-3 godhead Joey DeFrancesco made four albums for Concord before this one, each marked with a distinctive R&B edge befitting the churchly heritage of his chosen instrument. So it's intriguing that on Falling in Love Again, DeFrancesco's purest jazz work yet for the label, the man's content to share his swirling aural aerospace with the silky vocals of relatively unknown singer Joe Doggs. This is no mere cameo, either—Doggs croons on all 11 tracks, making the album as much his as DeFrancesco's. Doggs' vocals are so similar to the high, otherworldly, too-manly-to-be-a-woman, too-womanly-to-be-a-man stylings of Little Jimmy Scott that it borders on outright theft (not helping matters is the liner note where it's made known that Scott was a huge influence on Doggs; DeFrancesco/Doggs also cover Scott's "Can't We Begin Again" here). Still, if you set aside annoying comparisons, Doggs really is as good as his inspiration on such standards as "Pennies From Heaven," "Love for Sale" and the Gershwins' "But Not for Me." Doggs' smoky arrangements give everything an elegant, 4 a.m. wooziness (he even tosses in a casual "fuck" in the midst of "Falling in Love Again," which indicates how relaxed and loose these sessions must have been). About the time you start wondering where DeFrancesco's gone, he flips open his B-3 and fires off a bit of fingerwork so sweet and astonishing, it's like he's got 20 fingers . . . and y'know, he just might.
The Joey Defrancesco Trio perform at Steamers Café, 138 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-8800. Sat.-Sun., 8 p.m. $5. All Ages.
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