You might well be surprised to discover how often my old 7 LP collection of The Blues Project (includes the Rhino label Best-Of because it has the A and B sides of a single thats damnably hard to find) makes it onto the turntable. That group just had a magic to it, and Danny Kalb was a key founding member. When Parke Puterbaugh interviewed co-founder Al Kooper, that esteemed gent had this to say: "The thing that was so unusual was [our] energy on stage. There was an unbelievable amount of energy. Danny was ridiculous. He was like a man possessed. That's what was special about us", and I'm not about to be the guy who contradicts Kooper, a guy I hold in high esteem, his 1995 double CD Soul of a Man: Live a liturgical element in my pagan religious ablutions.
Okay, okay, in point of fact, Koop was not a true founder but Kalb indeed was. Al actually came in after Tommy Flanders left in '65, a year before the group's first slab, the way the hell cool '66 Live at the Cafe au Go Go. However, Kooper's such a force that he deserves the 'founding' title by default, so we, being civilized intelligent music maniacs, will grant it. And like Al, Danny played not only with BP but with the top dawgz as well: Dylan, Seeger, Ochs, Judy Collins, van Ronk, Stefan Grossman, etc. Au Go Go owner Howard Solomon said of him that Kalb "is up there with the best of all blues legends…I've worked with the greatest of all time, and he is at the top…Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall, Zappa, all greats, but Danny will emerge in the top 5." Over the top, granted, but Kalb inspires that kind of regard.
Moving in Blue is a double disc collection of works executed over a period of more than a decade. Originally a bid to reform the old BP, it features Roy Blumenfeld on several cuts but is not a reformed Blues Project. Whats it is is a raw and earthy set of 21 standards and 4 of Kalb's own. Please note that his fame grounds in guitar bravura, not the man's voice…though the same is said of Dylan, Cash, and others: they'd never qualify to step foot inside the opera house but would probably never want to, either. Danny's no different, and, when you lay an ear to his version of Hooker's Louise, it's plain this is a good thing. Pavarotti'd make nothing but a mess of such work. That historied guitar playing, though, is plentiful, well versed in the Chicago tradition, and brings back Kalb's and the Blues Project's heyday, the era when he was cheek to jowl with John Cippolina, Mike Bloomfield, Buddy Guy, Harvey Mandel, even Tom Rapp ('cause there's a decent slice of folk here as well, as in his own cleverly titled Mournin' at Midday), and a stellar array of down-lo bad boys that, to this hour, remain, as Howie Solomon averred, at the top of the lists.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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