Bob Corritore has been championing blues for four decades, first while living in Chicago and producing albums by under-recorded harmonica masters Little Willie Anderson and Big Leon Brooks, then later after moving to Phoenix, Arizona, as a radio programmer on KJZZ as well as the operator of The Rhythm Room where so many blues greats and lesser known acts have played over the past couple decades. Corritore is a pretty fair harmonica player with a swinging touch and a nice fat tone and has recorded and played with many over the years, which have been represented on various compilations under his name or by the artist (such as a superb Robert Lockwood album). Delta Groove has just issued a solid new compilation of 15 performances, “Harmonica Blues,” on which Corritore adds his harp to a varied group of artists, some of whom are no longer with us.
The opening “What Kind of Man Is This,” has him supporting the late Koko Taylor with a solid band that includes the Bob Margolin. Louisiana Red is in fine form backed by Corritore and Rhythm Room regulars Chris James and Patrick Rynn, while Dave Riley, with whom Corritore has shared albums with is solid on a tune by the late Frank Frost. Its interesting hearing the late Nappy Brown on the Piedmont-ish “Baby Don’t You Tear My Clothes,” with atypical guitar from Kid Ramos and Johnny Rapp lending this a unique feel. Eddie Shaw is present for “1815 West Roosevelt,” an atmospheric instrumental with Shaw’s raspy sax complimenting Corritore’s harp, while Robert Lockwood reworks “That’s All Right,” with henry Gray on piano for a terrific take on the Jimmy Rogers classic. Big Pete Pearson really tears vocally into “Tin Pan Alley,” with Chris James and Johnny Rapp’s guitar among the sup[port and Corritore sounding terrific on chromatic harmonica.
Tomcat Courtney, another down home bluesman that Corritore has championed and recorded struts on “Sundown San Diego,” while That’s My Baby,” is a slightly frenzied Eddy Clearwater rocker. “Things Have Changed,” is a strong performance by pianist Henry Gray with the late Chico Chism, while Pinetop Perkins is heard on an engaging, if unremarkable “Big Fat Mama.” Chief Schabuttie Gilliame does a fresh take on “No More Doggin’” as if it was John Lee Hooker’s song, while Honeyboy Edwards has the company of Corritore, James and Rynn to help hold his performance of “Bumble Bee,” together. Carol Fran’s “I Need to Be Be’d With,” is a terrific vocal and the disc closes with a solid Little Milton performance that is a bit more down home in its flavor. It is a solid ending to a very spirited compilation of very good to superb performances. Bob Corritore’s solid harp enlivens all of these performances, but at no time does he overshadows the blues legends and masters he shares the recordings with on this most entertaining compilation of real deal blues.
The review copy was sent by the publicity firm for the recording company. Delta Groove’s website for this release is Harmonica Blues.