Joey DeFrancesco’s Goodfellas


This time I’d like to talk about an album with two of my favorite jazz musicians (I have seen both of them multiple times) from 1999: It’s Joey DeFrancesco’s “Goodfellas” with Frank Vignola on guitar and Joe Ascione on drums. A classical organ trio where these three musicians of Italo-American background play a mix a classic jazz tunes and great Italian songs. The CD starts with “Speak Softly Love”, the theme from the movie “The Godfather” and it shows what these three guys have in mind on the CD: Play great melodies and swing perfectly. I have seen Frank Vignola several times and he really likes to play all these great melodies from the American songbook, from classical European composers or from traditional European music.

Joey DeFrancesco is also a person who likes to make music, to play to entertain and to swing hard. His playing is more blues inspired and the CD also features this music in “Whack’ Em”, “Goodfellas” and “Ya See What I’m Sayin’?”.

Finally, Joe Ascione has been working with Frank Vignola many times so these tow guys knew each other very well and also had a very similar understanding in what and how to play.

The CD has been recorded on two days in 1998 and according to producer John Burke, the most of the songs “are first takes, without any rehearsal whatsoever”. Very impressing.

I don’t have Italian roots but many of the songs like “Volare”, “Fly Me to the Moon” or “O Solo Mio” are songs that I have heard many times and their melodies are familiar, but again, what these three guys make with them on this CD is still impressive and surprising.

The guitar solo on “Fly Me to the Moon” is in my opinion the best guitar solo I ever heard on this tune. It starts simple with the melody and ends up in a mandolin style tremolo. The organ and guitar solo are played very dynamically, both start rather soft and end up very hard swinging. This is really a perfect interpretation of this classic jazz tune.

The last song the CD called “Whack ‘Em (Reprise) / Tarentella” catches the spirit of this recording. Three guys who share a very common understanding what Jazz music is all about come together, have fun and produce a timeless record.

I found a video on youtube of “Fly Me to the Moon”:

And again a playlist if you want to listen to or order the CD:

MUF @ kulturprofit in Steffisburg

MUF mod 2.


Jakob Jenzer organises  concerts in his atelier and this series runs under the label “kulturprofit”. There were three Jazz concerts this year and I had the chance to see the last one of the series where he invited Peter Fischer on drums, Stephan Urwyler on guitar and Heidi Moll on bass to present their current project MUF.

Heidi and Peter are already playing together for some time and their music can be described as a combination of rhythmic world beats with lyric and melodic patterns and grooves. Both experiment also with loops and they have been able to bring their ideas from the studio to the live stage.

Stephan Urwyler is very well known in the Bern Jazz and Blues scene and is very busy in different projects from Jazz combos, Jazz big bands to Funk and Blues productions.

Together they have been able to entertain us for more than two hours with their rhythmic and improvised music (which are in my opinion the two important characteristics of jazz music). The band started with a composition from Heidi Moll and Peter Fischer called “Dunes” and featured Heidi on her magnificent instrument (a double neck bass with a 5-strings neck and a 4-string fretless neck).

One of the highlights of the concert was Stephan Urwyler’s tune “Heiweh – Homesickness” which featured Stephan and showed his talent as a writer of beautiful melodies and excellent improviser over melodic changes.

All three used additional technical options of loops or guitar effect pedals to expand the sound variety or to create extra instrumental layers.

The second set was again of combination of compositions from all three members and especially remarkable was here the tune “Magma” featuring Peter Fischer.

I haven’t seen any announcements where you can see the trio again, but please check on their website for more information.

Finally I also need to say one thing about Jakob Jenzer and his project “kulturprofit” which is based on his commitment to give the chance to unusual musical projects in an artistic environment. The way this evening was organized was perfect match for everybody: The audience got the chance to see a band for free (a donation could be made at the exit) and the musicians could present their music and ideas in a location with a curious audience. Hopefully Jakob Jenzer will continue with this series.

I found some videos from Heidi Moll and Peter Fischer and I created a playlist with the songs mentioned in the blog. Please enjoy.