Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chicago Bluesman Toronzo Cannon Is In A Leaving Mood

A Chicago native, singer-guitarist Toronzo Cannon has been playing professionally since 1997 since playing with vocalist Tommy McCracken at the Taste of Chicago. Since that time he has developed musically and developed a driving, searing style that strike me as suggestive as Son Seals. His influences range from Muddy, Elmore to Tyrone Davis and Johnnie Taylor, with his ears open to Bob Marley, John Mellancamp and Jimi Hendrix.

Delmark has just issued a new CD Leaving Mood that follows up 2007 a self-produced CD. He is backed by rhythm guitarist Lawrence Gladney, keyboardist Roosevelt Purifoy, bassist Larry Williams, and drummer Marty Binder with guest appearances by guitarist Carl Weathersby and harmonica player Matthew Skoller. Its a tight band with a rocking style. Nearly all of the songs are originals from Cannon and/or Gladney and there are a varied bunch.

She Loved Me has echoes of Hound Dog Taylor’s She’s Gone with Gladney’s slashing rhythm guitar figure as Cannon sings about his woman who committed murder in first degree before Cannon takes a searing solo. With Skoller adding harp, Cannon’s shuffle Chico’s Gone (For Chico Banks) is an affectionate tribute to the late Chicago bluesman where he issues his regrets of not saying goodbye to his friend. cannon sings about not being to get over an old lover on Gladney’s soulful Come On, while the two collaborated on the funky I Believe where his woman knows about what is going on while playing games that mess with Toronzo’s head.

Hard Luck is an original slow, topical blues about losing his job and it being hard on man when one tries to get by as the bills pile up and savings won’t go far with Carl Weathersby taking then first scorch the earth solo with the two both taking solos after the final verses. Open Letter (To Whom It May Concern), has his vocal distorted (sounding as if he was singing through a harmonica mike) as he sings about the backbiting, dog-eat-dog stuff that goes only some in the blues scene with Skoller adding nice harp embellishments on this before Cannon’ solo which makes use of the lower strings and guitar effects as Gladney and rhythm lay down in an understated manner an insistent groove. One of the few songs not written by Cannon is his sensual rendition of Nina Simone’s smokey Do I Move You, which provides a nice change in feel.”

Whether talking about the woman who will drink away Toronzo’s gig money on I Can’t Take Her Nowhere, or waiting for his woman who can make him feel so small so that he is in a Leaving Mood, Cannon and Gladney have provided us with some fresh songs and a distinctive approach that has led Alligator’s Bruce Iglauer to provide his endorsement for this “contemporary blues statement” on the back cover noting it has “a slew of striking, original songs with performances full of swaggering power and confidence.” The music at times may be a bit too upfront for my ‘taste,’ but that is a matter of preference. Cannon is a strong singer and the band here is terrific. The result is this album that certainly will make those listening to the blues taking notice.

I received my review copy from Delmark.

On "The Real Blues Forum" on Facebook, Stefan Wirz provided a youtube link. I am providing a different link since this is one the songs in the CD.

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