By Dennis Roger Reed

Danny_Kalb_and_FriendsDanny Kalb was one of the founders of the Blues Project, a band that referenced blues, jazz, rock, country and “world” music. Al Kooper and Richard Greene were among his bandmates. They peaked early, finding the first split in 1967, but regrouping under the same or similar names throughout the next few years. With member changes from the very first, they eventually spin off/evolve into a group called both Seatrain and Sea Train, and Kalb bowed out to follow his more blues based direction.

The Blues Project allowed Kalb to stretch out on both acoustic and electric guitar, something he still does 50 years on. Following a stroke a few years ago, Kalb regained his health and moved deeply into music than ever. Moving in Blue represents a recent project supplemented with recordings going back into the mid-1990s, with enough tunes to fill out two full CDs. Kalb sings and plays both electric and acoustic guitar. His work is notable not only for its authenticity with the older blues numbers, but also his reckless abandon on the electric guitar. His guitar work is masterful. On electric, his solos rarely go where they are “supposed to go.” His acoustic playing is sensitive where needed, and driven where needed. Kalb contributes a few songs, but a number of blues classics are re-invented.

Kalb will never be classified as an expert vocalist but his emotive range more than covers for any physical limitations. His craggy baritone suits the vast majority of the songs on Moving and adds authenticity to the older blues standards, even if he bends and shapes those songs to his own style. Although his acoustic guitar work is superb, capturing the historical while allowing for his own spins, it’s his electric work that shines. Back in the day, reviewers often coined Kalb’s electric guitar work as sloppy, but it was not then, nor is it now. Guitar is not supposed to be a “safe” instrument, with every note calculated and unerringly delivered. Kalb hangs on the ends of branches, slips but doesn’t fall and generally imbues his performance with fire and force.

Although many of the tunes are solo, Kalb adds a full band, often including (or totally comprised of) producer Greg Ambrosino. The production quality is remarkably clear and live sounding, more living room than concert stage, and the songs and personality are well suited in this environment. There is a hard to describe positive energy with this project, even though many of the songs come off as relaxed and back porch.

If you demand your blues tar paper shack authentic, this is not the recording for you. But if you like acoustic blues and enjoy electric blues that do not fit the usual cookie cutter format, you will likely enjoy Moving in Blue.

Check this out The Blue Project!

Dennis Roger Reed is a singer-songwriter, musician and writer based in San Clemente, CA. He’s released two solo CDs, and appeared on two CDs with the newgrassy Andy Rau Band and two CDs with the roots rockers Blue Mama. His prose has appeared in a variety of publications such as the OC Weekly and MOJO magazine. Writing about his music has appeared in an eclectic group of publications such as Bass Player, Acoustic Musician, Dirty Linen, Blue Suede News and Sing Out! His oddest folk resume entry would be the period of several months in 2002 when he danced onstage as part of both Little Richard’s and Paul Simon’s revues. He was actually asked to do the former and condoned by the latter. He apparently knows no shame.