While the world aches for the chance to get back into the swing of things, back to celebrating music live, one such band that brings the energy of the stage and then some to the studio is NYC’s Project Grand Slam. PGS has been making music since 2007 and the Robert Miller-led group is on point in the awesome album East Side Sessions.
Featuring song that pick you and get you dancing, songs that get you thinking and even songs that get you emotional, East Side Sessions is 12-tracks in length. With audacious music beds and catchy lyrics, these songs are a thrill. What makes each so great is the fullness of the band, the robust sound. The tracks are pristine, yet move in a way that feels like the groove just started from a small ember. Simmering in the funky fumes, songs like “I’m Falling Off The World” create a sound that could easily be the score or soundtrack to a movie montage.
“It Is a Miracle To Me” has a coolness, a blue tint. The vocals are suave and caring. Same for the moving melody and beautiful piano in “Juliet Dances”. In “It Don’t Matter” the opening percussion and conga beat is fantastic. Fans of “Smooth” (Rob Thomas and Santana) will adore the opening drum sequence. The percussion puffs in the right spots and the vocals give the song a new layer. The saxophone is a bit more sleepy, but the vibe is a go-getter.
In “Hey Jake” I felt a 70s vibe. “Stockbridge Fanfare” (track seven) has a lush guitar opening and the lyrics “though Alice doesn’t live there anymore, and Norman’s moved just a few miles away” gave me the idea of a town changing, a world evolving. Perhaps greed has closed the small town business doors, or even losing our values as people.
“The Week” is poppy and while the lyrics are focused on days of the week, I enjoyed the next track, “Tessa” more. “Tessa” has a slower mood. “Sometimes I remember that I love you…think of me gently” are some of the lyrics. Again, the saxophone sort of meanders around the music bed before the bridge. This song felt very reflective and stoic. It’s also comparable to “Juliet Dances” and I wondered if these were about the songwriter’s two daughters or special women in his or her life.
“I Wanna Be Your Girl” is a very unique take on The Beatles’ “I Wanna Be Your Man”. It’s funkier and really swells with the keys/organ. The saxophone embellishment is solid. I had a tough time getting the music out of my head! And, finally, “The Pardners” is quite unique. It’s a bit of a mix between “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and well, I will leave that to you. It’s country and it’s jazz.
PGS is Marilyn Castillo (vocals), Alex Blade Silver (saxophone), Marcello Casagrandi and Baden Goyo (keyboards), Tristan Clark (guitar), Joel E. Mateo (drums), Guillermo Barron Rios (percussion) and founder Miller (bass). East Side Sessions is PGS’ ninth full album.