Friday, September 8, 2023

Van Morrison 46: You’re Driving Me Crazy

Joey DeFrancesco was a third-generation jazz phenom who was already a major label recording artist at the age of sixteen. He’d already worked with John McLaughlin and guested on dozens of albums in between recording his own before Van Morrison tapped him and his small combo for You’re Driving Me Crazy.
This was Van’s third album released in the space of seven months, and like the others, it’s a jazz and blues set combining standards and remakes of his own tunes. Most of the latter are recent (“Evening Shadows”, “Magic Time”, the whiny “Goldfish Bowl”) or certainly obscure (“All Saints Day”, “Celtic Swing”, and we’re not sure we needed another sprint through “The Way Young Lovers Do”, or a bop version of “Have I Told You Lately” with daughter Shana. The covers are a grab bag as well, from Cole Porter’s “Miss Otis Regrets” to Ray Charles’ “Sticks And Stones”.
What helps everything stand out is DeFrancesco’s Hammond B-3 organ, and occasional trumpet. Van plays alto sax here and there—you can always tell when he’s about to because he keeps singing with the mouthpiece in; he also takes a nice harmonica break on “Things I Used To Do”—but mostly lets Troy Roberts do the heavy horn work. It’s refreshing to hear Van in a different environment. (Yes, he had Georgie Fame in his band for a while, but that was more R&B than jazz.)
The album was supposedly recorded over two days, and at 70 minutes, they seem to have kept everything. Van also seemed to enjoy himself, as we can hear him laughing during the solos on the title track, and at the end of “Every Day I Have The Blues”. As with most of his work this century, You’re Driving Me Crazy is not a major statement; it’s just a gig. And it’s a pretty good one.

Van Morrison and Joey DeFrancesco You’re Driving Me Crazy (2018)—3

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