Joey de Francesco signed an exclusive recording deal with Columbia Records at the age of 16. The following year, he released his first album, All of Me. His appearance on “All of Me” is credited with helping the organ return to jazz in the 1980s.
That same year, DeFrancesco accompanied Miles Davis and his band on a five-week European tour. He then played keyboards on Davis’ 1989 album Amandla, which reached number one on the contemporary jazz album chart. Around the same time, De Francesco began to play the trumpet, inspired by the voice of Davis.
DeFrancesco was first discovered by Davis during an appearance on the TV show Time Out. When Davis asked the show’s host “What’s your organist’s name?” he appeared on set with classmate Christian McBride, referring to De Francesco. DeFrancesco’s record deal with Columbia includes the release of five albums. In addition to All of Me, he released Where Were You in 1990, Part III in 1991, Rebopin in 1992, and Live at the 5 Spot in 1993.
DeFrancesco began touring with his own quartet at the age of 18. In the early 1990s, he began working with former Miles Davis guitarist and Mahavishnu Orchestra leader John McLaughlin. At 22, he was a founding member of The Free Spirits with McLaughlin and drummer Dennis Chambers. He toured with the band for 4 years and has been involved in the recording of several records, including the albums Tokyo Live and After the Rain. DeFrancesco was also credited for playing the trumpet on the album “Tokyo Live”.