One For Rudy
High Note 7256
Organist Joey DeFrancesco’s One For Rudy is a sweet dollop of swing but far from a main course. The trio (Steve Cotter on guitar, Ramon Banda on drums) strolls through ten tracks of mostly well-worn standards in a nod to recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder who supervised the session last summer. This band has a lot of experience on the road together but this is their first studio outing. The liner notes include a strange quote from DeFrancesco in reference to his sidemen that raises some eyebrows: “They were my B band. Well, now they’re my A band.” Is that really a compliment? What led to the promotion? Ah, nevermind. Things progress slowly at first with a lighter than air take on “I Don’t Wanna Be Kissed” breezing by while “Canadian Sunset” gets a tumbleweed rub amid the gently propulsive swing. The band hits their stride midway through on a blistering version of Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring.” DeFrancesco is at his flamboyant best, opening the tune solo before letting Cotter spin an elastic take on the changes that works well against DeFrancesco’s ebullience. A driving interpretation of “Monk’s Dream” gives everybody a chance to shine. Banda trades fours with DeFrancesco in a bouncing conversation that highlights the undersung drummer’s chops. The trio is in fine form throughout but they don’t shed any new light on the repertoire or the format. The result is an entertaining enough blowing session but DeFrancesco and his bandmates could make a record like this every single day if they wanted to. The main accomplishment of this album is acknowledging the importance of Rudy Van Gelder and getting to personally show him some gratitude for his decades of work. A gesture we all wish we could make.