Danny Kalb has a lot of musical miles under his belt. He rose to fame as the founder of the legendary group, The Blues Project. Kalb, along with band mates Steve Katz and Al Kooper, formed an early rock and blues fusion band. They were also adept at improvisation during their live performances, similar to The Grateful Dead.
While the original group would only issued three albums, they would leave a lasting influence on music. They have reunited a number of times through the years and Kalb continues to play with them upon occasion. If you would like to hear The Blues Project at their best, seek out a copy of Live At The Café Au Go-Go.
Danny Kalb would remain active in music but release few albums on his own. He would continue to tour with a small trio but also played in support of such artists as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Judy Collins, and Pete Seeger.
2008 finds Kalb releasing I’m Gonna Live The Life I Sing About. It is a classic blues album with maybe two of the fourteen tracks leaning toward a folk sound. He keeps the music basic. He plays either acoustic or electric guitar with just a bass, drums, and an occasional harmonica in support. In addition to three original compositions he covers songs by the likes of Willie Dixon, Billy Boy Arnold, Jimmy Reed, Joe Williams, and John Lee Hooker. If you like the blues, this is an album for you.
“I Wish You Would” quickly establishes his sound and guitar virtuosity. It is basic electric blues with a boogie beat. His short improvisations within the song’s structure are creative and excellent. His interpretation of the old Little Richard track “Slippin’ and Slidin’” is brilliant. He slows the melody way down and presents the song acoustically. The phrasing is straight blues which enables the lyrics to take on new meaning.
The Willie Dixon tune “You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover” is presented in a frenetic acoustic style. The clarity of his guitar sound is extraordinary and his hand speed remains top notch. “I’m In The Mood,” originally done by John Lee Hooker, retains its ominous feel through both the vocal and guitar sound.
The eleventh and twelfth songs have a different feel. They are lighter in content and move Kalb in a folk direction. “Shake Sugaree” uses a harmonica as a lead instrument to create a lonesome sound. Kalb gives one of his smoothest vocals on this track. “Samson & Delilah (If I Had My Way)” is an old Rev. Gary Davis tune that Kalb updates in a modern folk direction.
I’m Gonna Live The Life I Sing About proves that Danny Kalb is one of the best practitioners of the blues in music today. He has a long, if under the radar legacy, and it’s good to hear him at his best. This album should be a definite buy.