Danny Kalb offers ‘Moving in Blue’ on his own Sojourn Records
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Danny Kalb has release Moving in Blue on Sojourn Records. Delayed due to health setbacks and expansion, the release is a sprawling 25-track double CD of recordings spanning over a decade and including elements of blues, folk and rock.
With the release of Moving in Blue, Kalb deeply mines the cannon of the American songbook, mixing traditional folk, blues and gospel standards (“Baby Please Don’t Go,” “Got My Mojo Working,” “I’ll Fly Away”), and some early rock ‘n’ roll (“Sally Go ‘Round the Roses” by The Jaynetts and later Tim Buckley and Pentangle) with lesser known treasures (“God’s Radar” as performed by Dixie Hummingbirds, “Black Coffee” as performed by Sarah Vaughn, “So Doggone Lonesome” by Johnny Cash).
There are two Dylan covers from two different eras (“It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” and “Make You Feel My Love” ). Reoccurring themes include love and longing (“Can’t Be Satisfied,” “Waitress”), religion and mortality (“Death Creeping,” “Goin’ Down Slow”), and transportation (“Lonesome Whistle,” “Yellow Cab”). Kalb’s self-penned numbers open disc 1 with a short, sprightly two-minute rock number (“Feel Just Like Going Home”) and close disc 2 with “Yellow Sky,” a ballad which wouldn’t sound out of place on Johnny Cash’s later sessions produced by Rick Rubin.
Musicians appearing on the project are friends from Kalb’s past (Roy Blumenfeld) and present (Mark Ambrosino). Culled from nearly a decade of formal and informal recordings at The Madhouse, the flagship Queens studio of Ambrosino and his label Sojourn Records, Moving in Blue embodies the perfection of a great, labored work, lovingly recorded, mixed and mastered over years of time.
Kalb has been on the mend from a minor stroke, delaying the release of Moving in Blue. Fortunately, Kalb has been quickly able to return to the stage with voice and guitar chops intact, and has been able to play dates in the Northeast and the South over the first half of this year, culminating in a triumphant appearance at the Piccolo Spoleto festival in Charleston, S.C. last June.
In 2009, Kalb recorded a fully realized studio “comeback” record for Sojourn Records with studio session drummer and label president Mark Ambrosino entitled I’m Going To Live The Life I Sing About. The album was released to critical acclaim, featuring subtle, no-frills covers of classic blues and early rock ‘n’ roll by artists such as Elizabeth Cotton, Willie Dixon, Rev. Gary Davis and Little Richard.
At 68 years of age, Danny Kalb has a recording history dating back to the early ’60s. Starting as a peer of Dave Van Ronk in the Greenwich Village acoustic folk-blues scene (including an early radio appearance with a very young Bob Dylan), Kalb appeared on such early folk releases as The True Endeavor Jug Band (1963), The New Strangers (1964), The Folk Stringers (1964) and The Rag Time Jug Stompers with Dave Van Ronk (1964). He appeared on Elektra Records’ Blues Project compilation album (1964) covering that scene, as well as session work for Phil Ochs’ All The News That’s Fit To Sing (1964) and Judy Collins’s 5th Album (1965). Kalb also performed session work on Pete Seeger’s’ Waist Deep in The Big Muddy and Other Love Songs (1967) and Jimmy Witherspoon’s Blues Singer (1969).
Kalb came into legendary blues pioneer status with the formation of the Blues Project in 1965, being among the first blues-rock hybrid guitarists. The group’s classic period with Al Kooper, Steve Katz, Andy Kulberg and Roy Blumenfeld includes Live at the Café Au Go Go (1966), Projections (1966), and The Blues Project Live at Town Hall (1967), as well as their only Billboard charting single, “No Time Like The Right Time” (1967).
Kalb left the band with Katz, prior to Planned Obsolescence (1968), which was released by the remaining members under the Blues Project moniker at the insistence of Verve before they became Seatrain. Kalb returned with the reformed Blues Project with Lazarus (1971) and The Blues Project (1972). The Blues Project disbanded in 1972 with their final recording. The Original Blues Project Live At Central Park was issued in 1973.
Kalb returned to releasing music in the mid-’90s, recording for Relix Records with Livin’ With The Blues (1995), and rejoined Katz and Grossman for Played a Little Fiddle (2006).
Kalb self-issued an acoustic title, All Together, Now (2003), as well as two live titles: Live in Princeton (2003) and Live in Brooklyn (2006).