Bob Corritore – All-Star Blues Sessions

Bad Dog Blues
Blue Beat Music
Blues & Company Magazine (France)
Blues On Stage
Get Out Magazine
Omaha Reader
Phoenix New Times
Soul Bag Magazine (France)
Toledo Blade

Soul Bag Magazine (France) (Spring 2000)BOB CORRITORE
HMG-Hightone HMG 1009
220 4th St. no. 101, Oakland, CA 94607

Lil’ Ed Williams: Hip Shakin’. Jimmy Rogers: Out On The Road. Robert Lockwood, Jr.: Naptown Blues. Henry Gray: Everybody’s Fishin’. Clarence Edwards: Hear That Rumblin’. Chico Chism: Five Long Years. Henry Gray: How Many More Years. R. L. Burnside: Goin’ Down South. King Karl: Cool Calm Collected. Clarence Edwards: Coal Black Mare. Bo Diddley: Little Girl. Jimmy Dotson: Tired Of Being Alone. Henry Gray: Showers Of Rain. Chico Chism: I Had My Fun. Dino Spells: Jennie Bea. Nappy Brown: Nappy’s Driftin’ Blues. (57:03)

Remarqueable anthologie mais dont la function n’est que documentaire. Avant de s’établir à Phoenix, Arizona, en 1981, Bob Corritore, honnête harmoniciste natif de Chicago, fut le propriétaire du label Blues Over Blues (Little Willie Anderson, Big Leon Brooks), concurrent éphémère d’Alligator. Devenu animateur de radio, il a rassemblé ici avec enthousiasme une constellation de stars de diverses grandeurs, qu’il accompagne, bien sûr, souvent en compagnie d’un autre expatrié chicagoan, le batteur Chico Chism, et les groupes de passage. Sound professionel, variété stylistique et, parfois, derniers (?) enregistrements connus, rendent cette compil’ attractive, sommet d’un iceberg qui ne demande qu’à fondre…comme votre argent de poche.

– André Hobus

Bad Dog Blues (October 1999)

First things first- this is an absolutely killer blues compilation! With great performances by Lil’ Ed, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Rogers, Henry Gray and R.L. Burnside among others this is an excellent and diverse collection of first rate blues. that lives up to it’s all-star billing.

Now you may be asking yourself who is Bob Corritore (I know I did). Corritore is a blues renaissance man: a fine harmonica player, producer, radio show host, record label owner and talent scout for Arizona’s The Rhythm Room. It was while working at the club that he began to bring some of the artists to record afterwards and the wonderful results can now be heard by all.

Among many highlights are the three cuts by former Howling Wolf pianist Henry Gray. Gray’s rolling piano and rich, expressive vocals lend authority to Wolf’s “How Many More Years” and the rocking blues of “Everbody’s Fishin'” with tasteful guitar by Bob Margolin. Chico Chism is another alumni of Wolf’s band who plays drums and sings on two tracks including a great reading of “Five Long Years” supported by Pinetop Perkins on piano.

Louisiana guitarist Clarence Edwards is the only other artist to get more than one cut and his raw brand of swamp blues particularly on “Hear That Rumblin'” harks back to the old Excello sound .

Of the more well known artists Lil’ Ed lays down a rough and tumble version of J.B. Hutto’s “Hip Shakin'” with some fine harmonica from Mr. Corritore. Jimmy Rogers is in fine form on the somber “Out on the Road.” Robert Lockwood delivers a swinging, jazzy “Naptown Blues” with some dazzling guitar playing. R.L. Burnside’s “Going Down South” is a mesmerizing Mississippi blues that’s certainly the deepest of the bunch. Veteran shouter Nappy Brown closes the set with the beautiful slow burner “Nappy’s Driftin’ Blues” with sympathetic support by Kid Ramos on guitar.

This is one of the few compilations that sizzles from start to finish and fully lives up to it’s all-star title. The liner notes hint that there are more gems in the vault and I’m already eager for a second helping.

– Jeff Harris

Blue Beat Music (1999)

This amazing collection includes outstanding peformances by a vast array of blues talent from around the country all produced by Blues Renaissance man Bob Corritore. As well as lending his harmonica to these sides he also lends a critical ear to the proceedings so no mediocrity creeps in….Guests include Jimmy Rogers, Rusty Zinn, Lil Ed (wow!!) R L Burnside, Kid Ramos, Bo Diddley, Pinetop Perkins, Nappy Brown and Robert Lockwood…to name a few… Unlike so many ”all star” aggregations, Corritore always plays a sympathetic and supportive role to the masters he records with, rather than grandstanding on their shoulders.

-By Charlie Lange

Phoenix NewTimes (June 24, 1999)

Between his weekly radio show on KJZZ and his work as entertainment director of the Rhythm Room, Bob Corritore has long held the title of the Valley’s greatest advocate for traditional blues and roots music.

But Corritore is such an earnest and articulate fan that it’s easy to forget that he’s also a skilled musician in his own right. The 42-year-old Chicago native has been playing harmonica for nearly 30 years, often in support of the great blues masters. Since 1986, he has been building a cache of studio tracks, recorded at various local studios with blues legends who happened to be in Phoenix for a gig.

The roster of luminaries on these tracks reads like a who’s-who of Rhythm Room favorites: Bo Diddley, Pinetop Perkins, R.L. Burnside, Jimmy Rogers, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Henry Gray and Bob Margolin, among others. As time went by, Corritore realized he had something special with these recordings, but after his father died five years ago, he was reluctant to pitch them to labels.
“I really didn’t want to do anything with this while my mom was still living because she was very sick, and after my dad died, I needed to make my life very devoted to taking care of her,” Corritore says. “For the four years between when my dad passed and when my mom passed [a year ago], I really didn’t want to put anything out or take away from my focus on her.

“After I got over the shock of her passing, I thought I should put together these sides. I got together a package of 16 of my favorite songs and sent it out to a number of labels.”

Corritore got a positive response from several companies, but he instinctively gravitated to Hightone Records, a label that he’s long held in high esteem.

“Part of it was Bruce Bromberg, who is really the musical figurehead of that label and someone who I’ve strongly respected,” Corritore says. “They’re simply the greatest label as far as roots and blues. I don’t think anybody seems to understand the concept of both of those kinds of music as well as Hightone. If you look at their catalogue, they’ve taken on the entire Testament catalogue, and have done a loving job of reissuing not only the stuff that initially came out on albums, but going through the vaults and coming up with some unbelievable gems.”

Bromberg expressed enthusiasm for the project initially, but the Hightone chief got bogged down in work and never followed up with Corritore. In March, Corritore was at a Ronnie Dawson show at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, when Kim Lenz introduced him to Bromberg. The two blues aficionados hit it off, and Bromberg reasserted his interest in Corritore’s project.

From that point on, things happened with blinding speed. Corritore inked a deal with Hightone, and his first album, tentatively titled The Bob Corritore All-Star Blues Session, is scheduled for release on August 10.

The roots of Corritore’s all-star sessions in Phoenix go back to his early days, producing blues records in Chicago. Corritore is modest about his own musicianship, tending to see his knack for putting the right combination of musicians together in a room as his greatest skill.

“As I moved to Phoenix, I just found that more and more my role would be to use some of the connections I made from Chicago to bring artists into town,” Corritore says. “So the earliest track on this record is one by Robert ‘Junior’ Lockwood, the stepson of Robert Johnson. I knew Robert well from playing with him in Chicago, and I actually first met him in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when I was going to college. We had a particular rapport–he called me onstage to play with him then–and I always had that kind of admiration for him as a true father of the blues. He sometimes joked around about wanting to adopt me.”

Corritore brought Lockwood into town for a show in April 1986 and organized a band of local blues veterans around him. Lockwood also agreed to go into the studio and record some tracks with Corritore. “That was an example of probably the first thing we did that’s on the record,” Corritore says.

Because the sessions were recorded over a period of more than a decade, at different studios, and with various technologies, the challenge for Corritore was to make the compilation sound like a seamless whole. To that end, he credits Tempest engineer Clarke Rigsby for his efforts. Rigsby not only engineered the majority of the tracks, but also mixed the session tapes together to create a cohesive feel. The mastering work of Dave Shirk (Sonorous Mastering) was also a crucial component of the project.

What makes the album unique is that it documents a particular time period for the blues, and captures an array of greats in a loose, spontaneous recording environment. One of Corritore’s favorite tracks features the late guitarist Jimmy Rogers, who was basically Muddy Waters’ right-hand man for years. Rogers’ work with Waters has always served as a kind of template for Corritore. “I’d always dreamed of playing in a band like that,” he says.

At the recording sessions, Corritore says he would generally follow the artist’s lead, and allow things to go in any direction that felt natural. Sometimes that meant redoing a classic from the artist’s back catalogue, and at other times it meant creating something new.

In some cases, Corritore would lay back and relegate himself to a rhythmic, background role on harmonica. At other times, as with the Bo Diddley session, Corritore came to the forefront.

“Bo said, ‘Now I really want you to stand out on this one, to be the star of this track.’ We redid this track he had done in the ’50s for Chess, a song called ‘Little Girl.’ We got Bo real excited. He was shouting, and everybody was in a solid groove. Bo has such a great sense of melody and hitmaking that it was really fun.”

One of the album’s most appealing features for Phoenix blues fans is that its sound is defined by a core of standout local players who’ve never received the national recognition they’ve deserved. For instance, Corritore’s old friend Chico Chism plays drums on most of the album and also provides two vocal tracks.

“Phoenix has always had unbelievable players, but I don’t think they’ve ever had the same forum for exposure as this, so hopefully this record will do well and it will make Phoenix proud,” Corritore says. “I hope that happens.”

Surely the record deal will change Corritore’s life, but he remains unwavering in his commitment to his local duties: the Rhythm Room and his Sunday-night radio show. Such obligations almost certainly rule out any lengthy tours, but Corritore says he remains open to the idea of playing festivals or other special “fly-in” gigs to promote the disc.

“My ability to do touring and abandon what I’m doing here in town would be very hard for me to do,” he says. “And ironically, Hightone really depends on me to play their records and promote their acts coming through. So they’re very sympathetic about that. At the same time, I have no idea what new opportunities may arise as a result of this. I’m just looking at this as a wonderful time to grow and see what happens.”

– Gilbert Garcia

Toledo Blade

Chicago blues harmonica player Bob Corritore has sat in with some legendary figures and developed a style that seems far beyond his years. This album features him with seminal rock pioneer Bo Diddley, as well as blues greats Jimmy Rogers, Pinetop Perkins, Bob Margolin, Lil’ Ed, and others — and the result is a rich blend of authentic, roadhouse blues. It draws upon influences from Chicago to Phoenix, as well as rural Louisiana and Mississippi.

– Tom Henry


Phoenix may be hot, but it surely is not known as a hotbed of the blues — which, by the way, is not Bob Corritore’s fault. A Chicago native, Corritore left the Windy City in the ’80s and went to the Land of the Sun where he has been spreadin’ the word ever since. Recording, running a radio show, booking acts into local clubs, he’s done it all for the blues. This set highlights his best recording efforts. A compilation of 16 tracks recorded over 12 years, AIl-Star Blues Sessions has as its constant Corritore’s harp work, but the focus is on the guests. Whether it’s Bo Diddley on “Little Girl”, Pinetop Perkins on “Five Long Years”, Jimmy Rogers on “Out on the Road”, Robert Lockwood, Jr. on “Naptown Blues”, or R.L. Burnside on “Goin’ Down South”, the setting and playing work to highlight each session leader.

Let’s get one concern out the way right now: even though Corritore’s name may be new to you, the man can play. He uses the harp in wordless vocal accompaniment and as a background singer. Never intrusive, his style of playing — more accents than leads — adds immensely to the feel of each set without taking over. The rest of the band shifts with the timeframe, but the players show themselves to be more than just local session players. In fact, often much more. Chico Chism plays drums on about two-thirds of the tracks, and sings lead on a couple, where he shows himself to be a steady timekeeper and have a feel for a lyric. Johnny Rapp plays lead on more than half the tracks and does so with feeling and skill. All of this is very good since the guests turn in some sterling performances.

Clarence Edwards brings a dignified gait to the Arthur Crudup tune “Coal Black Mare”, while Bo Diddley balances lust and longing perfectly in “Little Girl”. And what can I say about Pinetop Perkins that hasn’t been said a hundred times before and far better than I can? He’s simply the best blues pianist ever, and he doesn’t disappoint here in the least. Jimmy Rogers demands that you feel his pain in “Out On The Road”, while Nappy Brown’s extension of the Charles Brown tune “Driftin’ Blues” would do the old master proud. Even though it’s a varied set, All-Star Blues Sessions holds together quite well. The overall mood is more upbeat than midnight, but there’s no doubt we are talking about the real blues here. In summary, a recommended disc from an unexpected quarter.

– Todd Warnke

Get Out Magazine (Mesa, AZ Tribune)

The shadow Bob Corritore casts over the Phoenix blues community is long and dark, and by the sheer force of his will, he’s made our hot town a much cooler place. Between Those Lowdown Blues, his weekly radio show (since 1983), and bringing top blues acts to the Rhythm Room as entertainment director, it should not be forgotten that Corritore is not just a blues advocate but a fine blues musician in his own right. His harmonica playing is the feature that ties together the 16 tracks on his debut CD. The “All-Star” in the title is no empty boast, as the disc features the likes of Bo Diddley, R.L. Burnside, Robert Lockwood, Jr., and many, many others including a slew of Phoenix’s finest players. Styles run the entire emotional gamut from Jimmy Rogers’ woeful lament on Out on the Road to King Karl’s ebullient braggadocio on Cool Calm Collected. Corritore’s agility is highlighted as his harp moves effortlessly to the forefront on some songs and into a supporting role on others. Recorded right in the Valley between 1986 and 1998, the album documents the mere tip of the iceberg of Corritore’s vault as he’s organized countless studio sessions with visiting musicians. As he continues to do so, we can all look forward to more albums like this.

– Thomas Bond

Omaha Reader

Imagine of Zoo Bar owner Larry Boehmer owned a recording studio. The result might be something like this disc from HighTone imprint HMG featuring “the Larry Boehmer” of Phoenix, Arizona, Bob Corritore. The opening track’s title, “Hip Shakin'”, sums up the whole disc’s late-night, boogie-blues feeling.
Corritore is a partner in Phoenix, Arizona’s The Rhythm Room (think Zoo Bar, Grand Emporium, etc.), and a musician with Chicago roots who hosts his own blues radio show there. Over the last few years he’s been taking artists booked at the Rhythm Room into a recording studio to jam, and the resulting 16 tracks collected here capture some raw roadhouse “throw-downs”.

Lil’ Ed Williams cuts loose on his uncle J.B. Hutto’s tune, that electrifying version of “Hip Shakin'”. Ed’s slide guitar and vocals are an amazing, live-wire blast of blues that eerily recalls Hutto’s style — this performance alone is surely worth the cost of the disc for Chicago-style blues fans.

Corritore is a harp player with a versatile tone and a smart sense of the groove. He’s surrounded himself with a wealth of great musicians for these tracks. Old-timers like the late, great Chicago bluesman Jimmy Rogers are featured prominently (performing his own song, “Out on the Road”, recorded in ’92). Corritore also taps some fine younger players from the West Coast blues scene like Rusty Zinn, Kid Ramos and Tom Mahon. Greats such as Robert Johnson’s “adopted son” Robert Lockwood, Jr., Pinetop Perkins, R.L. Burnside, and Bo Diddley are among the classic players spotlighted.

Names you may not know but will quickly savor include Henry Gray, Chico Chism, King Karl and Clarence Edwards. Their rich music simmers with that low-down, gritty ‘n’ greasy, it’s the “real deal” feel. Chism, Perkins and Corritore smoke their way through the classic “Five Long Years.” The jump-boogie “Cool, Calm, Collected” by King Karl captures the strains of blues birthing a fresh rock ‘n’ roll baby.

Whether you’re a blues collector, or you’re looking for a disc to start exploring the blues, this disc has got it goin’ on — from party-time boogies to melancholy after-hours serenades, Corritore’s got the blues for you.

– B.J. Huchtemann

Blues On Stage (MN Blues)

Bob Corritore is a transplanted Chicagoan, now living in Arizona, where all the tracks of this collection were cut. Corritore began hitting the blues-club scene in Chicago, sitting in on harp. He formed Blues Over Blues Records, and issued albums by a couple of mainstream blues harpists, Little Willie Anderson (a chauffeur-clone wannabe for Little Walter) and Big Leon Brooks. Since 1981 Corritore has been gigging in Arizona, hosting a weekly blues radio show, and booking national acts into local clubs.

This album has tunes cut between 1987-98 with a variety of players, the common denominator is Corritore’s harp on each track, as well as a core back-up band from the local scene. Guest artists include pianist Henry Gray (Howling Wolf), he chops out a rocking “Everybody’s Fishing” and two others, R L Burnside who burns on his mainstay number “Going Down South”, and Little Ed with his uncle’s number “Hip Shaking”. Other notable names include Robert Jr. Lockwood, on the jazz-based instrumental “Naptown Blues”, Bo Diddley on a non-tremolo guitar 1997 cut, “Little Girl”, and Jimmy Rogers with “Out On The Road”. The closing number features R&B shouter Nappy Brown doing a slow/deep eight minute musing on “Drifting Blues”.

Other tracks are filled out with vocals from the drummer, and a few guitar players. The main thrust here is the classic Chicago Blues sound, definitely on the funky side of the alley. There are several classic titles like John Lee Williamson’s “Hear That Rumbling”, Eddie Boyd’s “Five Long Years”, and Jimmy Oden’s “I’ve Had My Fun”–all get solid treatments. Throughout the set Corritore adds right-in-the-pocket harp, varying from acoustic to chromatic. He has a touch of Walter Horton’s deep-chest tone, and plays with drive and taste, serving the song rather than showing off. You want some good hard-core Chicago sound? This one is recommended.

– Tony Glover

Blues & Company Magazine (France)

(Translated from original text by Bindu)
Four Stars

This CD is a real “Babel Tower” of blues; yet different from the original tower that broke the ranks. The CD itself is perfectly on track; and it is necessary to say that before Bob was a quality harmonicist, he was an aficionado of the blues. Starting in Chicago at age 12, forging his education from club to club while learning from the “masters” such as Magic Slim or Honeyboy Edwards, he decided to promote this music; and founded his own label before migrating to Phoenix, Arizona, where he now continues his crusade by playing with local groups. Especially thanks to his radio broadcast on KJZZ-FM, he was able to cut across genres (with respect and discretion), with all the best of the blues-and to accumulate a mass of recordings (ones that you’ll find a party on this CD). Great blues moments, from Robert Lockwood to Lil’ Ed Williams and from Kid Ramos to Jimmy Rogers, are all there; Pinetop Perkins, Rusty Zinn, Bo Diddley, etc. Corritore’s choice is perfect; a scholarly mixture allows this superstar to put together a piece for his audience that enables them to revisit all the styles of the blues. A beautiful album.

– Erik Tonton

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