The father of Joey DeFrancesco, “Papa John” had his career revived when his son’s success helped bring about the renaissance of the Hammond organ. John‘s father had played reeds with various swing bands, including the Dorsey Brothers. John DeFrancesco began playing trumpet when he was six and did not start playing organ until his wife bought him an organ for his 23rd birthday. After a few months of nearly non stop practicing, he was ready to perform in clubs.
In 1967 DeFrancesco moved to Philadelphia and soon he was part of the Philadelphia jazz scene. However, in 1979 when Joey turned eight and started playing professionally,John temporarily gave up his career in order to supervise his son. Another son, Johnny DeFrancesco, developed into a fine guitarist. In the 1990s, John DeFrancesco returned to a more active playing career, recording two strong sets for Muse (Doodlin’ and Comin’ Home — both of which feature Joey on trumpet) and gaining a national reputation of his own. “Papa John” plays organ in an infectious hard bop style not that different from his son.
In the 21st century he signed first to Highnote and then its sister imprint Savant, where he issued a string of fine recordings including Hip Cake Walk in 2001,Jumpin’ in 2003, Walking Uptown in 2004, and Desert Heat in 2006. After a five-year recording hiatus,Papa John returned with A Philadelphia Story in a classic B-3 trio setting with John Jr. on guitar and drummer Glenn Ferracone, with guest appearances from Joey and tenor man Joe Fortunato.