Sunday, February 13, 2011
DelGrosso and Richardson Pair For Solid Blues CD
I have known of Rich DelGrosso as one of the more significant acoustic blues performers and teachers. With his late wife Maureen, I remember he performed at a DC Blues Society fund-raiser some two decades ago, later ending their performance with Howard Armstrong and Cephas and Wiggins jamming. Since then he has established himself as one of the contemporary masters of the blues mandolin. I have known Jonn Del Toro Richardson more recently through his wonder playing with the terrific Houston singer, Diunna Greenleaf. The two have paired on a new recording, “Time Slips On By” (Grove House).
With a solid rhythm section and the Texas Horns, this is a disc that showcases the two in a diverse program. DelGrosso opens with a gruff, gravelly vocal on the opening “ Baby Do Right, with his mandolin matched by Richardson’s strong guitar. The title track showcases Richardson, whose singing can suggest a member of Los Lobos. With the Texas Horns adding to the mood, Richardson takes a crackling solo. “Mandolin Man” is an ebullient Chicago blues shuffle with Sonny Boy Terry’s harmonica added. DelGrosso’s lyric celebrates here early blues mandolin players Charlie McCoy, Yank Rachell and Johnny Young. Nick Connolly pushes things along with driving piano. Richardson’s “Katalin,” with Joel Guzman adding accordion, slows things down on appealing celebration of the sweetest girl he knows.
On “Shotgun Blues,” inspired by the music of Yank Rachell, DelGrosso evokes Elvin Bishop. Here, Richardson’s sharp electric guitar is followed by some of DelGrosso’s nifty mandolin. “Hard To Live For” is the lengthiest performance here, opening with mandolin setting the atmosphere on a slow blues with a real strong vocal on a fine lyric. Richardson’s “Where’s Laura,” is an instrumental opening with Richardson’s use of an echoey treble and DelGrosso and trumpeter Al Gomez take concise solos.
“Summertime Is Here,” celebrating barbecue and seeing old friends, has Lopez again on accordion, and is another number conjuring up Los Lobos, with DelGrosso’s mandolin adding the right touch. “I Wish I Heard,” has the tenor sax of Kaz Kazanoff in the spotlight with a strong solo as well as his responses to DelGrosso’s vocal. DelGrosso’s “She Is Sweet,” is a rollicking shuffle that suggests “Dust My Broom” with Sonny Boy Terry back on harp and Richardson strong, while “Good Rocking Johnny” is an easy rocking instrumental with nicely picked mandolin before Richardson displays a touch of chicken scratch tone is his choruses.
As one would expect from these two, the musicianship is exemplary. They are thoughtful yet passionate players and display a certain flair for crafting songs and delivering them and I was surprised by the singing was on most of this. Time Slips On By is a solid result of the partnership of DelGrosso and Del Toro Richardson, which one might hope would include some touring.
A review copy of this was provided by a publicist for the recording.