'The Blues Project' reunite with a concert in New York City's Central Park today in 1973

June 24, 2016

The Blues Project reunite for a concert in Central Park today in 1973...

The Blues Project is a band from the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City that was formed in 1965 and originally split up in 1967. While their songs drew from a wide array of musical styles, they are most remembered as one of the earliest practitioners of psychedelic rock, as well as one of the world's first jam bands, along with the Grateful Dead.

The band's first big break came only a few weeks later when they auditioned for Columbia Records, and failed. The audition was a success, nevertheless, as it garnered them an organist in session musician Al Kooper. Kooper had begun his career as a session guitarist, but that summer, he began playing organ when he played on the "Like a Rolling Stone" recording session for Bob Dylan's album, Highway 61 Revisited. However, when he heard Mike Bloomfield who had also been added to the session, he realized he would never come close to Bloomfield's astounding ability, and he surrendered his hopes of becoming a guitarist to concentrate on organ. In order to improve his musicianship on the new instrument, Kooper joined the Blues Project and began gigging with them almost immediately. Soon thereafter, the Blues Project gained a recording contract from Verve Records, and began recording their first album live at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village over the course of a week in November 1965

The Blues Project's last hurrah was at the Monterey International Pop Festival held in Monterey, California, in June 1967. By this time, however, half the original line-up was gone. Katz left soon thereafter, followed by Kalb. Ironically, Kooper was at the festival in the capacity of "assistant stage manager" to "Chip" Monck. A fourth album, 1968's Planned Obsolescence, featured only Blumenfeld and Kulberg from the original lineup, but was released under the Blues Project name at Verve's insistence. Future recordings by this lineup would be released under a new band name, Seatrain.

In 1968, Kooper and Katz joined forces to fulfill a desire of Kooper's to form a rock band with a horn section. The result was Blood, Sweat & Tears. While Kooper led the band on its first album, Child Is Father to the Man, he did not take part in any subsequent releases. Soon after, Kooper, then a producer for Columbia Records, recorded with Bloomfield and Harvey Brooks for the album entitled Super Session, before doing several solo albums including one with Shuggie Otis. Katz, on the other hand, remained with the band into the 1970s.

 

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