This is Joey DeFrancesco‘s personal take on what’s going on in the world and his plea for freedom. With a song by Sam Cooke and a Traditional, he also wrote seven new pieces and recorded the album with his new band, comprising of Troy Roberts on tenor and soprano sax, Dan Wilson on guitar, and Jason Brown on drums. Joey himself not only plays the organ, but trumpet and keys as well and to a very vivid and cool effect on “The Unifier” where he also uses wah-wah effects to underline this extremely soulful and funky cut. Troy’s sax work on this one is also very bop-oriented in addition to his soul approach.
“Better Than Yesterday” is a bit milder and swings imaginatively along before it comes to a slightly more dramatic ending. Joey turns lyrical and into a Gospel mode for “Lift Every Voice And Sing” which gets a pretty traditional arrangement by the leader. “One” is my favorite piece on the album – a very seductive midtempo groove with muted trumpet, soulful sax and slightly swirling guitar complete with some sexy Rhodes solo make this the epitome of passionate playing.
We also get a composition by Tony Crombie and Benny Green: “So Near, So Far” shows Joey’s chops fully intact and emphasizes his raw and earthy blendings, including some blues as well. Joey can get pretty slow and balladesque as well, shown here by the intimate and soothing “Peace Bridge”. There are a few Jimmy Smith-like moments on this one, like the conversational and matter-of-fact touch where he’s telling his story. And also on the blues-drenched “Karma” which also boasts with the smoky tenor of Troy Roberts and the Wes-style guitar of Dan Wilson.
The mood is changed again for the Sam Cooke classic “A Change Is Gonna Come”, where the preachy character is retained, but the piece somehow never really fires up and just marks time I think. But the reward comes right after the track: the album closer “Stand Up” has the whole group back in perfect harmony and integrity, shining bright with effervescent ideas and some healing force. Clap your hands.