Review – Bob Corritore and Friends – Harmonica Blues

Posted on: Thursday, Sep 23, 2010


“Harmonica Blues”
(Delta Groove Music – DGPCD139)

Bob Corritore celebrates 40 years here since he first picked up a harmonica with a collection of tracks recorded from 1989 to 2009, featuring many legendary names, in a variety of blues styles. The Chicago-born Corritore honed his skills in his home city’s scene in the 70s, before relocating to Phoenix, Arizona in 1981 where he has played, produced, run a radio show and his own live venue in the shape of The Rhythm Room.

A generous 15 tracks feature the likes of giants such as Koko Taylor, Little Milton, Pinetop Perkins, Robert Lockwood Jr., and more, as well as some of his Rhythm Room regulars – his fine harmonica playing is obviously the centrepiece of the album, but it also features some great vocal performances – none better than the opening “What Kind Of Man Is This?”, sung by the late Koko Taylor, a great Chicago blues driven by the guitars of Bob Margolin and Little Frank Krakowski and Corritore’s tough harmonica.

Louisiana Red features on the very Muddy Waters-sounding “Tell Me ‘Bout It”, which sees the much in demand David Maxwell on piano and the fast-rising duo of Chris James and Patrick Rynn, on guitar and bass respectively. Corritore’s recent duo partner Dave Riley, with whom he has recorded two albums, takes a vocal on the rocking Frank Frost tune, “Things You Do”, with more sweet harmonica.

The instrumental “1815 West Roosevelt” is a standout, highlighting guest Eddie Shaw’s saxophone and sparkling guitar solo from Buddy Reed – it’s the oldest cut here, from way back in 1989; Jimmy Rogers classic “That’s All Right” sees the late Robert Lockwood Jr. on guitar and vocals, with fellow legends Henry Gray on piano and Chico Chism on drums.

The slow blues of “Tin Pan Alley” sees Bob Corritore on really nice chromatic harmonica, behind the soulful vocal of Big Pete Pearson, the following “Sundown San Diego” is a nice shuffle, sung by its writer Tomcat Courtney, with Eddy Clearwater taking vocals and playing guitar on his own “That’s My Baby”, another sprightly shuffle – both tracks again featuring nice, understated harmonica from Corritore.

Elsewhere a couple of piano veterans take vocal turns on their own songs – Henry Gray on “Things Have Changed”, and the legendary Pinetop Perkins on a joyous, rollicking “Big Fat Mama”; the pace is taken down for Minnie McCoy’s “Bumble Bee”, with vocal by the evergreen Honeyboy Edwards. This fine collection ends on a high note with the late Little Milton on vocals and guitar on the lengthy “6 Bits In Your Dollar” . . . one of the blues greatest vocalists and sadly missed.

For those not aware of Bob Corritore’s playing this serves as a perfect introduction, with his varied harmonica on all tracks . . . never overplaying, but as part of the ensemble . . . . and also with some superb vocal performances from blues legends, many sadly no longer with us.


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