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It would be hard to think of a disc that could stir as much anticipation among fans of the Hammond B-3 as this pairing of Joey DeFrancesco and Jimmy Smith--two kingly figures on the big keyboard. The good news is that Incredible! lives up to its billing in a way that will make even the most jaded listener agree that its title is just about the only adjective that applies. Incredible! was, incredibly, recorded on one night during the 1999 San Francisco Jazz Festival, and as the aural evidence proves, what a night that was!
The four tracks that start the disc feature just DeFrancesco and his supertight backing band of guitarist Paul Bollenback and drummer Byron Landham. Consider it a more than satisfying appetizer before Smith sits down at the table, proving once again that DeFrancesco is a B-3 titan by anyone's standards, as he rips through "The Champ" and wrings some gut-wrenching sounds out of his organ during "The Good Life." But the main course comes when DeFrancesco sits in with organ legend Jimmy Smith and his band on the two medleys that close the set. They spark in a way that makes it hard to believe they'd never performed together before this night. They prod each other through a beautiful unaccompanied duet that segues from "Yesterdays" to "My Romance" and trading licks during a heated "St. Thomas." Incredible indeed. --Ezra Gale