The Blue Brass Project, The Same Pocket Vol. 3 (Lil King/Meantime Lounge Records)

Blue Brass Project, The Same Pockeet Vol. 3, album cover

Started in 2004, the BlueBrass Project puts players from the mountains of North Carolina together with New Orleans artists to find the common musical ground between bluegrass and brass band and funk. From N.C. comes singer-guitarist Woody Wood, who’s performed with assorted New Orleans cats in the last few years, string players Larry and Jenny Keel, Bryon McMurry and Jason Krekel. New Orleans supplies the rhythm section with Lionel Batiste Jr., Kirk Joseph and Ajay Mallory laying down varying beats. The Project has not always jelled well; previous recordings sounded like the musicians were in the same room, but not on the same wavelength. The Same Pocket Vol. 3 – “The Maple Leaf Sessions” has a more organic, natural feel to it despite the wide range of music covered. The continuity is excellent. Songs flow into each other well—the Boubacaar Cisokko-led “Welcome” into the traditional “Natty Grooves” and “Ms. Ferris” into the folk standard “Rider.” What is also great here is how the strings fill out the sounds of the New Orleans-oriented tracks while the rhythm section adds a bottom sound to the bluegrass cuts. This all climaxes near the end of the record with the Mardi Gras Indian tune “Hold ‘Em Joe,” where the strings add a beautiful high tension to the song before vocalist Big Chief Monk Boudreaux turns it on, and the band blows it up. The latest BlueBrass Project comes closer to perfecting this new kind of hybrid groove than ever before; Vol. 3 makes for great listening for fans of both genres, and other fans too.