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Bob Corritore and Friends - Harmonica Blues
East Side SlimBy East Side Slim

Bob Corritore and Friends – Harmonica BluesBob Corritore and Friends – Harmonica Blues – Delta Groove, 2010

For those not in the know, Bob Corritore is the blues maven of the American Southwest: noted harp player (official Hohner harmonica endorser), owner/talent booker at The Rhythm Room in Phoenix, blues radio show host/personality on KJZZ FM, recording artist, recording producer, blues newsletter producer, photographer, and sculptor of a world-class pompadour.

Bob comes by his blues roots honesty, having grown up in Chicago during the reign of the kings of electric blues. He arrived in Arizona around 1980 and ended up staying there, become a fixture in the music scene of Phoenix, and eventually world-wide in the blues realm.

The songs on this CD were recorded over the course of 20 years, ranging from 1989 to 2009, although the majority of the cuts are from the 2000s. The harmonica playing on all 15 tracks is by Bob Corritore, with various artists, especially the Rhythm Room All-Stars, providing the remainder of the music. The Rhythm Room All-Stars typically featured musicians such as Chris James, Patrick Rynn, Johnny Rapp, Chico Chism, Mario Moreno or Brian Fahey. Fourteen of the disc's 15 songs were recorded in Arizona, with the lone exception being Koko Taylor's cut; it was recorded in Chicago.

The Songs: (songwriter in parenthesis)

1. What Kind of Man is This? – (Koko Taylor)
--guests include Koko Taylor (vcls), Bob Margolin, Little Frank Krakowski, Bob Stroger & Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith
--This is a fine old-school Chicago blues workout from the Queen of Blues herself, Koko Taylor, recorded in 2005. With a switch of gender, the tune would have fit very comfortably into a set-list of Muddy Waters.

2. Tell Me 'bout It Later – (Doris Minter)
--guests include Louisiana Red (Iverson Minter) (vcls, guitar), David Maxwell, Chris James, Patrick Rynn and Brian Fahey
--There's no messing around here, as this is HARD blues from Louisiana Red and band. I always enjoy hearing Red playing in electric band formats (such is the case here) and this is no exception. It sounds like Louisiana Red was having a ball performing this cut, which was recorded in 2009.

3. Things You Do – (Frank Frost)
--guests include Dave Riley (vcls, guitar), Dave Riley, Jr. and Tom Coulson
--If you're familiar with the music of Frank Frost, then you would likely be unsurprised by the Jimmy Reed-feel this tune possesses. Blues near its most basic here, with squalling high-end harp work from Bob Corritore. The song was recorded in 2009.

4. Baby Don't You Tear My Clothes – (Smokey Hogg/Jules Taub)
--guests include Nappy Brown (vcls), Kid Ramos, Johnny Rapp, Paul Thomas and Chico Chism
--This one goes back a bit farther, having been recorded in 1998. Nappy Brown was in full possession of his strong baritone pipes, and Kid Ramos provided plenty of low-key but greasy guitar.

5. 1815 West Roosevelt (instrumental) – (Bob Corritore)
--guests include Eddie Shaw, Buddy Reed, James "Dr. Fish" Price, Scott Meyers and Roger Rotoli
--This is the oldest of the performances on the CD, having been tracked back in 1989. It's a swinging feature piece for Corritore and his powerful-yet-tasteful electric harp work. In addition, we are treated to fine performances from Eddie Shaw (sax) and Buddy Reed (guitar).

6. That's All Right – (James A. Lane, aka Jimmy Rogers)
--guests include Robert Lockwood, Jr (vcls, guitar), Henry Gray, Johnny Rapp, Mario Moreno and Chico Chism
--Robert Lockwood, Jr. digs deep down into the blues on this track. There are no jazzy interludes here, as this conjures up 1952 Chicago blues in all its glory. Make sure to turn the volume up so that you can fully appreciate the masterful ivory tickling of Henry Gray. This cut was recorded in 2001.

7. Tin Pan Alley – (Robert L. "Bob" Geddins)
--guests include Big Pete Pearson (vcls), Johnny Rapp, Chris James, Clay Swafford, Patrick Rynn and Brian Fahey
--The tempo is brought down a bit with this slow blues, featuring a fine emotive vocal performance from Big Pete Pearson and understated chromatic harp work from Bob Corritore. Also, the piano playing of Clay Swafford should be noted. The song was recorded in 2006.

8. Sundown San Diego – (Tom "Tomcat" Courtney)
--guests include Tomcat Courtney (vcls), Eddie Taylor, Jr., Chris James, Patrick Rynn and Brian Fahey
--This fun, mid-tempo shuffle (recorded in 2008) nicely captures the spirit of why ensemble blues possesses so much soul. Corritore's harp work here is quite good, too. This just sounds so "right".

9. That's My Baby – (Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater)
--guests include Eddy Clearwater (vcls, guitar), Chris James, Patrick Rynn, Bob Riedy and Jon Hiller
--This cut features a locomotive-influenced rhythmic feel, with the band working the groove for all it's worth. Turn up that steam, boys! (Recorded in 2009)

10. Things Have Changed – (Henry Gray)
--guests include Henry Gray (vcls, piano), Johnny Rapp, Paul Thomas and Chico Chism
--Henry Gray continues to sing and play piano with the force of a man 2 decades younger in age; the man is a phenomenon. Gray leads this hard blues, recorded in 1997, in fine fashion.

11. Big Fat Mama – (Willie Joe "Pinetop" Perkins)
--guests include Pinetop Perkins (vcls, piano), Chris James, Patrick Rynn and Brian Fahey
--Pinetop was showing his age by the time this cut was recorded (in 2007), with his vocals not being particularly strong. However, his piano playing here sounds very good, being featured prominently during the tune alongside Corritore's harp work.

12. No More Doggin' – (Schabuttie Gilliame)
--guests include Chief Schabuttie Gilliame (vcls), Kid Ramos, Johnny Rapp, Tom Mahon, Paul Thomas and Chico Chism
--This won't remind you of Rosco Gordon's work, but it will remind you of Memphis-era Howlin' Wolf or the heavier Hill Country sounds of Junior Kimbrough's bands. This tune is raw and menacing, led by the Chief's raspy vocals and Kid Ramos' super-grungy guitar tones. The song was recorded in 2000.

13. Bumble Bee – ("Memphis Minnie" McCoy)
--guests include Honeyboy Edwards (vcls, guitar), Chris James and Patrick Rynn
--As with Pinetop, Honeyboy's age was showing a bit during this performance (recorded in 2007), especially in his vocals. It sounds like Chris James may have been providing the more intricate guitar stylings here.

14. I Need To Be Be'd With – (Carol Fran & Clarence Hollimon)
--guests include Carol Fran (vcls), Johnny Rapp, Tom Mahon, Paul Thomas and Chico Chism
--You know, Carol Fran could sing the phone book and make you enjoy it. This woman has been a treasure for a long time, and her performance here (from 2000) is particularly strong. Also, Bob Corritore lays some power-packed harp on us, with Carol exhorting all the band members to give her what they've got.

15. 6 Bits In Your Dollar – ("Little" Milton Campbell)
--guests include Little Milton Campbell (vcls, guitar), Henry Gray, Johnny Rapp, Mario Moreno and Chico Chism
--The style performed here by Milton, hard delta blues in an almost back porch style, isn't one that is often associated with him, as he tends to be thought of as more of an uptown blues/soul artist. That said Milton shows us that he never lost touch with his roots with this phenomenal vocal performance and his fine guitar work. Milton was an incredibly powerful and expressive singer, and both those qualities are on display here. This track was recorded in 2002.

The Verdict:

Bob Corritore and his friends have produced a very fine album with "Harmonica Blues". If your bag is old-school electric blues, then you should be immensely satisfied with the performances on this disc. In addition to the great Rhythm Room All-Stars and guests such as Kid Ramos, this CD features some of the last recordings/performances from many artists who have passed away, including: Koko Taylor, Willie "Big-Eyes" Smith, Nappy Brown, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Chico Chism, Pinetop Perkins, Honeyboy Edwards, and Little Milton Campbell. If you're experiencing an itch for some good ol' blues the way they used to be played, consider this CD the calamine to that itch. Put this on and let these blues make everything all right! Ok, it's time to rate this bad boy. I'm handing out an STLBluesometer rating of 4.00 to Bob Corritore and Friends' Harmonica Blues.

For more information concerning Bob Corritore and his activities, see the following websites:

Lee Howland - aka East Side Slim

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