CD: 10 songs; 46:20 Minutes
Styles: Jazz and Funk-Inspired Blues
When massive natural disasters strike, one fantastic way to recover (especially if musically inclined) is to do what New Jersey’s Danny Petroni and company did: put musicians to work. “The Danny Petroni Project, (featuring Ku-umba Frank Lacy),” said Danny, “has been a labor of love.” Superstorm Sandy had just devastated the Jersey shore; towns in and around Tom Rivers and inland towns like Sayreville were heavily damaged. Many musicians and music-related business were down – gigs cancelled, venues damaged, all music productions stopped in the immediate area.
Within a few weeks the ‘Danny Petroni Blue Project’ was born. “If I could create a blues record with original songs that I had been writing, employ local musicians and use local music production impacted by Sandy…that would be something,” said Petroni. “I contacted [lead vocalist, trombone and flumpet player] Frank Lacy, [bassist] Gene Boccia, [violinist] Gary Oleyar, [drummers] Dave Halpern and John Allen and the rest is history,” said Danny. With an energy stronger than any hurricane and the most striking enthusiasm, lead guitarist Petroni and his fellow artists present ten original songs. Inspired by jazz and funk as well as blues, these three pack the biggest wallop:
Track 02: “Taste Like Chicken” – What’s more delicious than the meat mentioned in this lip-smacking track’s title? “It tastes like chicken, but it tain’t, as juicy as a melon, but it ain’t. I’m not a connoisseur [hilariously pronounced con-a-SEWER instead of con-a-SIR], no ‘parlez-vous Francais’ – when I see you walking in the club shaking it that way.” Some people prefer not to have horn sections in their blues songs, but the one here is hotter than a pan of fried fowl. As an added bonus, Frank Lacy interjects, “Tack-tack-ta-tackety-tack, all right!” at the very end.
Track 04: “Requiem for a Working Man” – Danny Petroni might have coined a new term in his tale of toil: “He lost his job down at the factory because of some kind of ‘outsorcery’,” Lacy sings of an industrious man named P.C. The hard-bitten refrain of ‘Working, working, working, working…” is reminiscent of gears grinding or a clock ticking ever-so-slowly. Layonne Holmes, Ricky Collins, and Katrina Harper join in on background vocals, especially harmonizing on “Work hard, toil and trouble.” Calvin Jones plays a mean and mournful upright bass.
Track 09: “Mouse in the House” – What kind of rodent drinks all of one’s beer? “Uncle George,” the dead ‘rat’ whom our narrator has slain for stealing his lover. Even while incarcerated, he can’t avoid vermin: “I sat in my jail cell, and from the corner of my eye, I seen a tiny mouse scurrying, scurrying on by!” John Drymond’s funky Hammond B3 organ and Dave Halpern’s drums add sly touches to the best pure blues song on this album.
“The Blue Project” may be musically eclectic, but one thing’s for sure: out of unspeakable tragedies come unique works of art.