Friday, April 11, 2014

Bob Corritore's Taboo Harp Feast

Bob Corritore has a new album of blues harmonica instrumentals, Taboo on Delta Groove. Corritore, a Chicago native who moved to the Phoenix area in the 1980s, has been a significant figure in the blues world as a radio host (his excellent “Those Lowdown Blues” on KJZZ on Sunday evenings), a recording producer, a promoter who created a thriving blues scene in Phoenix and a superb harmonica player.

Corritore has lent his considerable talents to terrific recordings by such folks as Henry Grey, Dave Riley, Louisiana Red, Big Pete Pearson and John Primer. He has had several albums under his own name, but these have often been compilations mostly of his work with a variety of blues performers. Taboo is an album of 12 blues instrumentals that feature Corritore’s swinging and fat toned harp playing backed by a crackerjack combo of guitars Junior Watson, keyboardist Fred Kaplan, bassist Kedar Roy and drummer Richard Innes. Two of the twelve selections have guitarist Jimmy Vaughan and organist Papa John DeFrancesco on which saxophonist Doug James also plays (he plays on one other number.

On the album cover, Charlie Musselwhite observes” Not many people can do an all instrumental harp CD and keep it interesting all the way through.” Having some dream backing musicians certainly helps as does a nice array of grooves and feels. Corritore is a player not simply possessing a big harp tone, but also one who displays a nuanced phrasing and a strong sense of swing that is heard on the somewhat exotic sounding title track as well as the driving Harp Blast, a hot shuffle in the vein of Little Walter, while another harp feature, Ruckus Rhythm evoked the brilliance of the late Jerry McCain’s classic Steady. Fabuloco (For Kid) is a nice salute to Kid Ramos with a Tex-Mex groove.”

Mr. Tate’s Advice is one of the two selections with organist DeFrancesco and Vaughan but Corritore’s unison playing with saxophonist James is also noteworthy on this jazzy performance. His unamplified chromatic playing on Fifth Position Plea contrasts with the fat atmospheric amplified sound on Many a Devil’s Night that would make Little Walker and George ‘Harmonica’ Smith proud. There is more outstanding chromatic on another Little Walter inspired instrumental, Bob’s Late Hours. On all three selections, Watson’s guitar is the perfect foil for the leader.

The terrific rhythm section provides such backing throughout while keeping the groove at a nice, relaxed tempo. Taboo is a marvelously performed, recorded and programmed CD of blues harmonica instrumentals. To paraphrase Charlie Musselwhite, it is a dandy of a CD.

I received my review copy from Delta Groove. Here Bob Corritore is seen with Bob Margolin at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix.

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