Danny Federici

Discussing His Latest Album, "Out of a Dream"

For Danny Federici, playing solo means taking a break from the massive crowds that come along with being a member of the E Street Band, and connecting with his fans on a more intimate level.

Federici, who has been no stranger to constructing memorable melodies as the organ player for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, continues doing so on his latest release, "Out of a Dream" (V2 Records).

"I wish I started this sooner, because I love being able to play music [solo] and I like being the leader of the band as well," he said.

Playing before 200 people affords Federici the chance to reach his fans on a personal basis.

"I probably see that many [people] when I play with the E Street Band, except that there's 25,000 [more] behind them," he said.

"Out of a Dream" is a little jazzier than Federici's previous release, "Flemington," but still contains covers of two rock 'n' roll classics; "Miss You" by the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."

While keeping the original melodies of both tracks intact, Federici still applied his soft, jazzy touch and made them his own. The entire album showcases Federici's ability to change a song's mood through the use of melody. Throughout the album, Federici provides the listener with a vast variety of keyboard tones and melodies.

"The melody is the most important part in this type of music," Federici said.

Just as in a vocal composition, the melody is the portion of a song that the listener will want to hear repeatedly, he said.

Though the album includes a number of improvised lead breaks, Federici said that many of its main melodies were thought out and composed.

Many of the outro organ riffs found on "Out of a Dream" were the result of letting the tape run and "just feeling the music," he said.

Federici said he left enough time in each composition to adequately express his ideas.

"If the song is too short, you're just sort of giving the feeling and then the song goes away," he said.

Federici, a classically trained organ player, said that he does not listen to a lot of jazz. That genre was the focus on "Out of a Dream," for which he chose to use musicians with more jazz credentials than the previous album.

"I really wanted to be more authentic with this," he said.

Federici said he has learned many things from watching Springsteen that he has been able to apply during his solo effort. He has watched how Springsteen delegates the parts and ideas of his songs, and how he adds dynamics to music.

"Of course, the E Street Band provides me with the luxury to be able to go out and do this for myself," he said.

Federici said he always enjoys playing live, as it is a chance to "hit the music harder."

"When I get out and play live, it's a lot of fun and people really respond to the music," he said.

During his latest tour, Federici said he will make a stop at Asbury Park's legendary Stone Pony, a place where he got his start, along with Springsteen and many of the E Street Band's members.

"I played there with the first record and I had a great time," he said.

He was also nervous playing at a venue that means so much to him.

"But I'm always up to jump into the pool and I'll swim and it was really a great time," he said.

Federici recalled the chances he had to improvise and play before smaller crowds in his early E Street Band days. Back then, Federici would join Springsteen and a drummer for acoustic radio appearances. The improvisation involved made those performances fun, Federici said.

Federici still remembers playing before a small crowd in California after the release of "Born in the USA" more than two decades ago.

"We went out and played The Roxy in L.A. before 500 people and blew the walls off the place," he said. "It was fantastic."

Years after performing the renowned piano runs on that album's title track, Federici seems content with the freedom he now has to create his own music. He has found a second musical home at V2 records.

"They're a great label," he said. "It's really a friendly place... It's a really homey environment. I really don't know that many record labels that are so responsive to the artist in this way - especially today."

[ Website: www.dannyfederici.net ]

Josh Davidson

Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.