Jazz organist plays at the Mill


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The Joey DeFrancesco Trio's shows today are the first in a series of performances that Hancher will sponsor in 14 relatively small venues in eastern Iowa.

The group will perform at 7:30 and 10 p.m. today at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission ranges from $10 to $20.

"The Mill has a 50-year history of excellent music performance; it seemed like a good opportunity to present jazz in an intimate club setting that will be really good for the two performers we have there," said Hancher Programming Director Jacob Yarrow. "It will be great for the audience, and it will be good for the art form."

Jazz organist DeFrancesco, who has been voted the best jazz organist by Down Beat every year since 2003, will lead the trio, which includes guitarist Rick Zingar and drummer Ramon Banda.

DeFrancecso's father, known in the jazz world as "Papa" DeFrancesco, was also a successful jazz musician, DeFrancesco said. He remembers growing up and hearing records of all of the great jazz organists as well as his father's playing.

"I heard the sounds coming from that instrument as a kid; I was very attracted to that sound," he said.

He began playing the organ at the age of 4, and at 17 he toured Europe with Miles Davis.

"It was amazing," he said. "It was very surreal. He's somebody that I looked up to; he's somebody that I idolized. He was somebody that everybody looked up to as far as music because he was an integral part of so many different genres of music."

DeFrancesco's talent and experience is recognized throughout the jazz world, but one doesn't need to look further than his bandmates to understand his contribution to the genre.

"For me, playing with Joey is a dream come true, to play with some somebody who has so many great ideas, always flowing; every gig is different," Banda said. "I have to be on my toes all the time, because I never know what he's going to throw at me. But it's always a beautiful musical experience."
Banda said that much of his inspiration comes from drummers before him who shared their stories through music. He takes their influence and finds his own vocabulary on his drum set.

"It's the music that really touches my soul; it's what really stirs me," he said. "There's a long tradition; it's like a beautiful book that never ends. There are just so many chapters you can visit."

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