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Steve Maddock: The Blues Project

Pierre Giroux BY

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Steve Maddock: The Blues Project
In the mid 1960's, there was a Greenwich Village, NYC pop band called The Blues Project which was primarily informed by folk, rhythm & blues, jazz and pop music of the day. One of their early success was entitled "Flute Thing," a tune from the group's 1966 album Projections (Verve / Folkways). Keyboardist / vocalist Al Kooper, a founding member of The Blues Project, wrote "Flute Thing." He went on, in 1967, to found the pop-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Why vocalist Steve Maddock chose to name this album The Blues Project is not entirely clear. But what seems evident is that the music is more closely aligned to blues singers such as Joe Williams, Jimmy Witherspoon and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson than any tangential connection to The Blues Project.

With several arrangements from guitarist and producer Bill Coon, Maddock and the band delve into many familiar blues themes beginning with "Everyday I Have The Blues/All Blues." With the Miles Davis' "All Blues" riff underpinning the arrangement, Maddock delves into the familiar lyrics and refrain of "Everyday" with polish and warmth. Pianist Chris Gestrin, tenor saxophonist Cory Weeds and trumpeter Brad Turner provide well thought-out fills throughout the number.

In 1950, blues and soul singer Percy Mayfield wrote "Please Send Me Someone To Love." Maddock's version—following a lengthy soulful opening from pianist Gestrin, and in spite of occasionally treacly lyrics—contains a restrained emotional commitment to the interpretation. Fortunately no insulin injection will be required after listening to this track.

"Cleanhead" Vinson's "Backdoor Blues" is given a delightful rollicking treatment as it opens with the following line: "Well I took the front door in/But I had to take the backdoor out." Maddock and the band settle into a catchy blues groove as he tells the story of trouble waiting behind a closed door.

To commemorate the launching of Joe Williams as the featured vocalist for the Count Basie band, in 1955 Clef Records recorded Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings on which "Alright, OK, You Win" took a prominent position and became an integral part of Williams' repetoire. So for the final track of this session, Maddock does not in any way try to replicate this iconic version of this number, but brings his own sensibilities to the interpretation as it swings along in brightly evocative fashion with the singer in full command of the material.

Track Listing

Every Day I Have The Blues/All Blues; Turnaround (If You're With Me, Today Will Last Forever); My Funny Valentine; Please Send Me Someone To Love; Liars' Club; Backdoor Blues; Let Me Out; God Bless The Child; Au Privave; Alright, OK, You Win.

Personnel

Steve Maddock: voice / vocals; Chris Gestrin: piano; André Lachance: bass; Dave Robbins: drums; Cory Weeds: saxophone, alto; Brad Turner: trumpet.

Album information

Title: The Blues Project | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: CellarMusic

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