The Blue Project CD cover

Album Review // The Blue Project – Self Titled

By Kevin Tshiamala

There’s something that draws the down and out to the dark corner bars filled with smoke, sorrow and liquor. The sounds produced by the Blues evoke that very feeling, feeling that down and out way. Those blues dens are few and far in between now a days, and the music just the same. Danny Petroni born 1956 in Trenton, New Jersey, has lived for the Blues; for the music and he is back with his band The Blue Project and their new self titled album.

The Blue Project consists of ten solid tracks that traverse through the depths of blues, jazz soul, and rock. Petroni, a well experienced and educated musician performing with well known jazz musicians such as Steve Nelson, James Spaulding, Frank Lacy as well as studying under master teacher Dennis Sandole in his earlier years, you can hear and better yet feel all of the influences over three decades of experiences blending together and becoming one as you traverse from theory to theory, song to song, story to story.

The horn compositions, choral harmonies, elements of rock and country mixed with variant blues influences not to mention the decent lyrics, at times great, make this for a painless and rather wonderful listening experience. Two of the ten songs on the tracks are instrumental, “Cracker Jack” and “Diminishing Returns,” which allows for the soloists and various musical contributors to strut their stuff and show you what their musical talents amounted to – a curtsey if I may.

As Danny Petroni explained, The Blue Project, the band and its self titled first release, began as a reaction to hurricane Sandy. Due to the disaster, work for musicians was dwindling and all music productions stopped within the immediate area. This was a way for Petroni to make music as well as give local musicians work and a way to express the hurricane Sandy blues. Express they did with songs such as “Requiem for a Working Man,” that emphasizes the tiresome struggle of monotonous work life and touches on topics such as outsourcing. “God of War” is based on blues foundation, but its lyrics and guerilla undertone makes it feel like a modern day protest anthem. Frank Lacy’s vocals tones are heavy in resemblance to that of John Lee Hooker. Not to mention that his trombone and trumpet work throughout the album are downright filthy.

There are many other great contributors to this album, Gary Oleyar (violin), Gen Boccia (bass), Calvin Jones (Upright Bass), John Drymon (piano, HB3 Organ), Steve Kramer (piano), John P Allen (drums), Dave Halpem (drums), Jo Wymer, Layone Holmes, Ricky Collins, and Katrina Harper (vocals). When you have a mix of good musicians working together for a good cause, especially after a tragedy in a genre that allows you to best explore and express those woes, you end up with a good piece of work like The Blue Project. It is daring, experimental, and timely, but still stays true to those dark corner down and out smoke filled bars. “Hey You’re Looking Good” closes out the album. As Frank Lacy’s lyrics cry out, “will you take a chance on me,” I urge you to take a chance and listen to this good piece of work.

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