From The Vaults Series Reviews (2020 Batch)

American Blues Scene
Blues News (Finland)
Chicago Blues Guide
Glide Magazine
Making A Scene
Philly Cheeze’s Rock & Blues Reviews


Glide Magazine (November 11, 2020)


Phoenix’s famous blues club, The Rhythm Room, run by traditional blues harmonicist Bob Corritore (originally from Chicago) has provided him the opportunity to record sessions with the club’s many performers. Over a period of 22 years, Corriotre is now releasing three albums of unavailable and unreleased sets from his vast master tape archives in what he’s dubbed “From the Vaults” series. The first of these, Travelin’ the Dirt Road, with guitarist/vocalist Dave Riley was released on October 23rd, and appears below this week’s release, Phoenix Blues Sessions, with guitarist Kid Ramos. The third installment, Cold Chills, is due on December 4th featuring Howlin’ Wolf’s legendary pianist and solo artist in his own right, the late Henry Gray.

Phoenix Blues Sessions features guitarist Kid Ramos and Corritore, who worked together on several studio recording sessions from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. These sessions were built around some great vocalists like Henry Gray, Nappy Brown, Big Pete Pearson, Chico Chism, Doctor Fish, and Chief Schabuttie Gilliame. The duo seamlessly interweaves their classic blues stylistics around each singer. The original release was a benefit album to help Kid in 2012 during his treatment of Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare cancer. David ‘The Kid’ Ramos was born in Fullerton, California. He started performing professionally in 1980 with The James Harman Band. After playing guitar with Harman for eight years, he was in that same chair for The Roomful Of Blues for a short time. Kid was almost immediately successful with his solo debut Two Hands One Heart, from which much was remastered and re-conceived on this album along with some alternative recordings from the archives. The duo enlisted bassist Paul Thomas and string man Johnny Rapp (guitar and mandolin) well as the late drummer/vocalist Chico Chism (“Mother In Law Blues”) as the core band for the recordings. Nappy Brown steps out on “Aw Shucks Baby” and the country inspired “Baby Don’t You Tear My Clothes.” Besides Tom Mahon, Henry Gray is also at the keyboard for five songs. Around Phoenix they affectionately call Schabuttie Gilliame “The Chief”. He lives in a small community just west of town called Buckeve and plays regularly in Phoenix and around California. The Chief holds sway on his “No More Doggin’” and the closing “Snakes Crawls At Night.” Among them all, his voice and that of Dr. Fish on “24 Hours” are “must hear” tracks.

Travelin’ the Dirt Road features singer-guitarist Dave Riley — and a small band cutting loose on acoustic and electric blues. Riley may be Corritore’s longest running partner and these sessions were taken from the original recording issued in 2007 with two previously unreleased tracks added. Even though all these songs are originals, most written by Riley, every song is rooted in common blues structures. The accompanying band again features Rapp on ten tracks, with bassist Dave Riley, Jr., and drummer Tom Coulson. Pianist Matt Bishop and bassist Paul Thomas are on select tracks. Riley’s rich vocals, his stinging guitar work, and Corritore’s lively harp work, combine to deliver full-bodied arrangements on common, blues-themed subjects: men love women, make love to women, and get left by women. Good times, it seems, are always followed by bad times, and while these testosterone-laced clichés are sometimes tedious, they are the deeply ingrained in the idiom. Riley sings them convincingly with his gritty, credible voice. Many of these songs allow Corritore and Riley plenty of space to stretch out.

Arguably, the strongest of the three, perhaps due to some sentimentality, given Henry Gray’s longevity (he passed this past February at the age of 95) is Cold Chills. Five years after Volume 1 Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest, (released on the defunct Delta Groove label) their second collaboration finally appears. Henry Gray laid down more than seven decades of recordings, and his playing contributed largely to forging the aesthetic of the modern blues piano, with others such as Sunnyland Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Eddie Boyd, and Otis Spann. A native of Kenner, a Louisiana town near Baton Rouge, he arrived in Chicago at the age of 21, and soon found his way into the emerging local club scene. Under the leadership of the great Big Maceo, he bonded there with local cats (including Jimmy Reed, Billy Boy Arnold and Elias McDaniel, alias Bo Diddley), and thus entered his first studio sessions as an accompanist, beginning in 1952. Sessions included Homesick James, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Robert Jr Lockwood, Johnny Shines, Lazy Lester, Little Walter, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Little Walter and of course the guardians of the electrified Chicago Blues, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, becoming a mainstay in the latter’s band. Gray also accompanied Elmore James during his final performance in 1963.

Like many valued sidemen, Gray did not become a leader until late. He was already almost 70 years old when his first name recordings appeared as Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest on Lucky Cat Records in 1999 while his last solo album, aptly titled 92, dates from 2017. Aware of supporting one of the last custodians of original Chicago blues, Corritore here brings an avalanche of guests, a veritable directory of blues luminaries. Hold on tight, this is dizzying – John Brim, Robert Jr Lockwood, Tail Dragger, Bob Margolin, Eddie Taylor Jr, Rockin ‘Johnny Burgin, Kirk’ Eli ‘Fletcher, Bob Stroger ,the late Chico Chism, as well as Brian Fahey and Marty Dodson. As the only constant musician alongside Gray over all 14 tracks, Corritore is heard but gives others and especially Gray most of the room. The repertoire is mostly standards (“Going Down Slow”, “Don’t Lie To Me”, or even “Going Away Baby” by Jimmy Rogers and “Mother In Law Blues” by Don Robey) with a few originals. Tail Dragger’s Wolf-like vocals on “Hurt Your Feelings” probably gave Gray some of those ‘cold chills’ as he may have clearly reminisced hearing his former mentor. Gray’s not a bad vocalist either as evidenced on “Mojo Boogie” by JB Lenoir or “The Twist” by Hank Ballard. Interestingly, as pointed out in the liners, the first song, “Ain’t No Use” is from their first Phoenix session 22 years ago while the last track, “The Twist,” if from their last session.

Corritore is blessed to have played with many of the greatest blues artists in history and continues to collaborate today with traditionalists like John Primer. Corritore is neither a writer or vocalist on any of the three albums, content to blow energetically and passionately while surrounded by superb players. As such, all three recordings, and especially Gray’s, serve as historical documents. Rather than showcases of harmonica playing, (which is consistently strong of course), they read as diaries of a sideman who was both content and thrilled to be sitting in.


Making A Scene (November 19, 2020)

Bob Corritore’s “From The Vaults” Series

Chicagoan Bob Corritore studied blues harmonica and received playing tips from Carey Bell, Big Walter Horton, Junior Wells and others. When he was twenty-five he moved to Phoenix, Arizona eventually opening his own blues club named The Rhythm Room. With his house band, The Rhythm Room All-Stars, he backed musicians when they came to town. Corritore has been nominated for seven Blues Music Awards including three for Best Instrumentalist – Harmonica. He won a BMA in 2011 for the Historical Blues Album of The Year. Corritore has released fourteen previous albums under his own name although he appears on over seventy more. Corritore has just released three new albums of unavailable and/or unreleased gems from his vast tape archives.

—————

Dave Riley & Bob Corritore
Travelin’ The Dirt Road

Vizztone Label Group/SWMAF Records

Dave Riley was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1949. He lived with his grandparents and worked in the cotton fields until moving to Chicago to live with his parents. Riley once saw Howlin’ Wolf perform but his parents would only let him sing gospel. After serving in Vietnam he began working as a prison guard and spent time shaking his alcohol and drug addictions. In the 1970’s he played bass and sat in with Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy and Howlin’ Wolf. In 1973 he gave up his musical career to raise his son Dave, Jr. Riley formed his own band in 1996 with Junior on bass. He had some earlier albums but began a collaboration with Corritore and together released “Travelin’ The Dirt Road” on Blue Witch Records in 2007. This re-issue contains the original ten tracks with the addition of two previously unreleased gems. Riley and Corritore collaborated two more times, their last release being 2013’s “Hush Your Fuss!” also on Vizztone. On “Travelin’ The Dirt Road”, Riley, guitar and vocals; along with Corritore, harmonica; are accompanied by Johnny Rapp, guitar; Matt Bishop, piano; Riley, Jr. or Paul Thomas, bass; and Tom Coulson, drums. Highlights include “I’m Not Your Junkman”, and the title track.

—————

The Kid Ramos Bob Corritore
Phoenix Blues Sessions

Vizztone Label Group/SWMAF

Guitarist Kid Ramos has been a member of both The Fabulous Thunderbirds and The Mannish Boys. He has five solo albums the last being 2018’s “Old School” on Rip Cat Records. “This album represents the collaborative recordings of Kid Ramos and Corritore from the late 1990’s to early 2000’s. Originally rushed to release as a benefit album for Kid in 2012 during his cancer scare”. The original release has been remastered and reimagined and includes eight of the original ten tracks with the addition of four more previously unreleased. Ramos and Corritore are joined by Johnny Rapp, guitar and mandolin; Henry Gray or Tom Mahon, piano; Paul Thomas or Mario Moreno, bass; and Chico Chism, drums. Six different vocalists take turns including Nappy Brown, Big Pete Pearson, Chief Schabuttie Gilliame, Dr. Fish, Gray, and Chism. This is a collector’s delight.

—————

Henry Gray And Bob Corritore Sessions Vol. 2
Cold Chills

Vizztone Records/SWMAF

Pianist Henry Gray is a 2017 Blues Hall of Fame inductee who performed for seven decades; and played with Robert Lockwood Jr, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Billy Boy Arnold and The Rolling Stones. He has eight Blues Music Award nominations including a 2016 nomination for “The Henry Gray/Bob Corritore Sessions, Vol.#1: Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest”. Gray passed away on January 17th, 2020 at the age of 95.

The Gray/Corritore Sessions Vol.#2 were recorded by Tempest Recordings’ Clarke Rigsby between 1996 and 2016. Contributing are guitarists John Brim, Robert Lockwood Jr, Bob Margolin, Eddie Taylor Jr, Jimi Primetime Smith, Johnny Rapp, Illinois Slim, Johnny Burgin, Chris James, and Kirk Fletcher. Bassists include Patrick Rynn, Troy Sandow, Bob Stroger, Paul Thomas, Pops McFarlane and Mario Moreno. Drummers include Chico Chism, Brian Fahey, Marty Dodson and Steve Cushing. Additional vocalists Tail Dragger and Chief Schabuttle Gilliame also guest. The album is co-produced by Corritore and Rigsby.

Gray sings on eight tracks including his own “Cold Chills”; Fats Domino’s “Don’t You Lie To Me”; Don Robey’s “Mother-In-Law Blues”, and Hank Ballard’s “The Twist”. These sessions are a tribute to the memory of Gray, a great pianist and vocalist.

Corritore is a traditionalist always helping to preserve the real deal blues. These three albums are highly recommended.

– Richard Ludmerer




American Blues Scene (November 20, 2020)


VizzTone Label Group has announced they are releasing a series of recordings from harp master Bob Corritore. The series, entitled From the Vaults is a collection of historic, previously unavailable, and unreleased gems from Corritore’s vast master tape archives.

Corritore was born in Chicago in 1956, and after hearing Muddy Waters on the radio at the age of 12, began teaching himself harmonica. He collected blues albums and playing tips from the biggest names in the Windy City before moving to Arizona in 1981. Once there he became a member of an early incarnation of Janiva Magness’ band, began hosting a Sunday night blues program on KJZZ radio which he still hosts today, and eventually opened his own club, The Rhythm Room, in Phoenix. His talents have earned him a Blues Music Award, a Keeping the Blues Alive award, a GRAMMY nominations and a spot in the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame, and that just skims the surface.

The most astonishing thing about Bob, is the scores of top bluesmen he has produced, supported and played alongside over the years. Folks like Bo Diddley, Pinetop Perkins, Ike Turner and Eddy Clearwater to name just a few. Corritore is recognized as one of the top traditional blues blues harmonica players in the world.

The albums being released in this series include historic recordings, unreleased tracks, and original cuts with some of the biggest names in the blues world.

First up is Dave Riley & Bob Corritore – Travelin’ the Dirt Road. The Mississippi-meets-Chicago team of Riley and Corritore was widely received. They met in 2004 at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, and released the BMA and BBMA-nominated album Travelin’ The Dirt Road on Blue Witch Records in 2007. Their sound demonstrates a natural musical chemistry and friendship, and is pure down-home blues. This release contains the 2007 album in its entirety, plus unreleased tracks from the vault. Travelin’ the Dirt Road is available now.

Kid Ramos and Corritore collaborated on 4 powerful studio recording sessions in Phoenix from the late 1990’s to early 2000’s. These sessions were built around some great vocalists: Henry Gray, Nappy Brown, Big Pete Pearson, and Chief Schabuttie Gilliame. The Kid / Corritore combination would seamlessly interweave their characteristic musical backing around each singer’s style and each song’s assignment. Compiled for the first time as a focused reflection, it was presented as 10 examples of some very heartfelt blues played with a masterful touch. On each of these sessions, legendary blues drummer Chico Chism laid down his classic Chicago beat and Johnny Rapp provided some amazing support guitar work. Phoenix Blues Sessions has a street date of November, 13th, 2020.

Legendary blues piano master Henry Gray started teaming up with Corritore in 1996. Each year Bob would invite Henry to perform at The Rhythm Room, and while in town participate in a recording session. These sessions continued until 2018 when Gray was no longer able to fly (due to doctor’s orders). Gray, a native of Kenner, Louisiana, left this world on February 17th, 2020 at the age of 95, already having been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Henry Gray & Bob Corritore Sessions Vol. 2 Cold Chills contains 14 tracks, some previously unreleased and features artists including, John Brim, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Bob Margolin, Eddie Taylor, Jr., Tail Dragger, Jimi “Primetime” Smith, Chief Schabuttie Gilliam, Johnny Rapp, Illinois Slim, Johnny Burgin, Chris James, Kirk Fletcher, Chico Chism, Brian Fahey, Steve Cushing, Marty Dodson, Bob Stroger, Troy Sandow, Paul Thomas, Patrick Rynn, Pops McFarlane, and Mario Moreno. The street date for this release is December 4th, 2020.


Philly Cheeze’s Rock & Blues Reviews (November 28, 2020)

I can’t express how excited I am about this new “From the Vaults” blues series from Bob Corritore on Vizztone. The first three releases out of the gate pair the harmonica master with Dave Riley, Kid Ramos, and Henry Gray.

Dave Riley & Bob Corritore’s 2007 album Travelin’ the Dirt Road consists not only of the original tracks, but has two additional previous unreleased songs as well. Recorded over three sessions from 2005 to 2006, this album features Riley on guitar, Corritore on harmonica, Johnny Rapp on guitar, Matt Bishop on piano, Dave Riley Jr. on bass, and Tom Coulson on drums.

The album nicely rolls the album in with “I’m Not Your Junkman”, a tune written by John Weston, Riley’s friend and former bandmate. Warm vocals and a fascinating guitar performance capture my attention on “Let’s Have Some Fun Tonight”. Corritore is such fabulous side-man. His harp playing never takes a back seat, and in tracks like “My Baby’s Gone”, it completely makes the song. This one sounds so great, especially with Bishop busting out his barrelhouse piano. “Voodoo Woman, Voodoo Man” is a double dose of slow-brewed blues, and I love every bit of it.

The Kid Ramos/Bob Corritore album Phoenix Blues Sessions is a collection of collaborations between the two from the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s. Originally released as a fund raiser during Kid’s cancer scare in 2012, this re-release features three previously unreleased songs, and an alternate take on “Natural Ball”. With Ramos on guitar and Corritore on harp, Chico Chism take the reigns on drums with Paul Thomas as the bassist and Johnny Rapp on guitar or mandolin. Vocalists consists of Nappy Brown (1929 – 2008), Henry Gray, Chief Schabuttie Gilliame (1925 – 2014), Big Pete Pearson, and Dr. Fish. Additional musicians consist of bassist Marrio Moreno and pianist Tom Mahon.

I love the twangy sound of Ramos’ guitar on “Come on In”. This classic from Harum Scarums (Big Bill Broonzy, Mozelle Alderson, Thomas A. Dorsey) features Henry Gray on piano and vocals. Corritore delightfully ushers Eddie Boyd’s “24 Hours” in on harp, with Dr. Fish delivering a timeless vocal performance. I love the raw infectious groove on “No More Doggin’” with Chief Schabutti Guilliame commandeering the microphone. This is absolutely fabulous. Ramos’ slide guitar is captivating on Little Milton’s “Possum in My Tree”. Featuring Big Pete Pearson on vocals and Mahon on piano, its such a terrific cover.

Henry Gray & Bob Corritore’s Sessions Vol: 2 Cold Chills features recordings made between 1996 and 2016. With Gray on piano and vocals, Corritore on harp, and guitarist Johnny Rapp on most of the songs, the list of musicians who are a part of this is rock solid. A partial list of them include, Robert Lockwood Jr, (1915 – 2006) Bob Margolin, Eddie Taylor Jr. (1972 – 2019), Tail Dragger, Jimi “”Primetime” Smith, Chief Schabuttie Gilliame (1925 – 2014) , Illinois Slim, Johnny Burgin, Chris James, and Kirk Fletcher.

Eddie Taylor Jr. brings his vocals and guitar prowess along with guitarist Illinois Slim for a wonderful cover of Jimmy Roger’s “Going Away Baby”. This is what the blues is all about. Corritore’s harp-playing is music for the soul. “Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin appears with guitar in hand on “Ain’t No Use”. Gray’s piano performance is flawless and his vocal performance draws me right in. Chubby Checker’s ‘The Twist’ is a big ball of fun, with Jimi “Primetime” Smith singing. Bassist Troy Sandow and drummer Marty Dodson keep the party going on the rhythm section. The Chief brings one of his own songs, “Javelina Jamboree” to the album in full-on shindig style. Being from Arkansas, I’m more likely to refer to these gnarly beasts as a razorback. Burgin tears it up on guitar while Gray pounds the hell out of the keys, and Corritore rips it up on harp. It’s a good time for sure. It’s so cool to hear the legendary Robert Lockwood Jr. play guitar on “Mother in Law Blues” too.

This “From the Vaults” series is certainly one to keep your eyes on. This is a must listen for serious blues fans. These first three albums are an absolute treasure. I honestly can’t wait to see what Corritore has in store next.

– Phillip Smith



Blues Roadhouse (December 8, 2020)

Harp impresario Bob Corritore has created an oasis for the Chicago blues in the Arizona desert. Well, in the city of Phoenix, which is on the edge of the Sonoran Desert. Close enough.

Bob was born in Chicago, where he first soaked up the blues, but took his talents and interests to Phoenix in 1981, where he now has his own club, The Rhythm Room. And where he has brought dozens of great blues players to perform and record, and where he seems to have an almost unlimited supply of great unreleased music stored away from all those sessions.

And, not incidentally, it’s an oasis that allows the Chicago blues spirit to not only live on, but to thrive. Bob’s specialty seems to be tough, down-home Chicago blues, and they come across with grit and grease in his music.

If you’re familiar with his work, you already know what I mean. If not, you owe it to yourself to check out his music. Bob is a master of the traditional blues harp, and constantly surrounds himself with other great bluesmen. They’ve always got music that’s worth a listen. Check out his catalogue.

Now you can get a chance to hear some of what he’s been doing over the years. Corritore has just released three albums take a look back of some of those fine recorded moments. It’s his “From the Vault Series,” produced by his Southwest Musical Arts Foundation, and found on the VizzTone label.

Dave Riley & Bob Corritore – “Travelin’ the Dirt Road.”
This was an album Corritore released with Mississippi bluesman Dave Riley in 2007, plus two unreleased tracks in this new edition. The two artists complement each other beautifully, and their tough blues on the title track is a great example.

Kid Ramos & Bob Corritore — “Phoenix Sessions”
California-born Ramos and Corritore work on this Vaults release from four recording sessions from the late ‘90s to the early 2000s. They wove their music around powerful vocals by greats that include Henry Gray, Nappy Brown, Big Pete Pearson, and Chief Schabuttie Gilliame.

Henry Gray & Bob Corritore — “Cold Chills”
It’s a tough choice, but this is my favorite of the three albums, mainly because I enjoy the soul-churning piano of Henry Gray so much. Gray, who died just last February at the age of 95, had been an annual feature at Corritore’s club since 1996, performing and recording during his visits. These 14 cuts include turns by some greats, including John Brim, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Bob Margolin, Eddie Taylor, Jr. and Tail Dragger.

These are all thoroughly enjoyable albums, filled with some great old-school blues that seems to be getting harder to find these days. And, like Gray, they are filled with some musicians who have left some masterful musical memories. The phrase “real deal” is overused a lot, but it’s a good choice here. This music is the real deal.

– Jim White


Blues News Finland (December 2020)



BOB CORRITORE’S
From The Vault Series

Huuliharpisti Bob Corritore on noussut vuosien satossa vähitellen yhdeksi tämän päivän tärkeimmistä afrikanamerikkalaisen musiikin taustavaikuttajista. Hän on merkittävä bluesmusiikin tukija, sanansaattaja, promoottori, levytuottaja, bluesartistien puolestapuhuja ja heitä yhteensaattava voimavara. Kaiken tämän lisäksi Bob on erinomainen huuliharpisti. Endottoman keskeinen paikka, josta Bobin aktiviteetit ovat saaneet alkuvoimansa on hänen Arizonan Phoenixisssa sijaitseva Rhythm Room -klubinsa, jossa hän on tarjonnut esiintymismahdollisuuksia lukemattomille bluesartisteille, ystävystynyt heidän kanssaan, johtaen vuosikausia kestäneeseen yhteistyöhön. Allekirjoittanutkin (PN) vieraili klubilla kauan, kauan sitten. En tuntenut Bobia silloin, mutta sen jälkeen tiemme ovat kohtailleet usein. Bob on aina näkyvästi framillä siella missä on keskeisiä bluestapahtumia ja -kokoontumisia, kuten vaikkapa Memphisin International Blues Challenge tai Blues Music Awards -kekkerit. Hän kulkee paikasta toiseen povitaskussaan tai huuliharppusalkussaan uusia cd-julkaisujaan, joita hän sitten saattaa vaivihkaa sujauttaa taskuusi vinkkaamalla, että “joko sinulla on tämä”, tai ” haluat varmaan kirjoittaa tästä lehdessäsi”, tai ”soitathan tätäradioasemallasi”. Bob Corritore on bluesyhteisön todellinen, Duracell-pupuakin aktiivisempi työmyyrä ja musiikillisen viestikapulan eteenpäin viejä. Palan painikkeeksi hän on erittäin kohtelias, korrekti herrasmies.

– PERTTI NURMI & HARRI HAKA

HENRY GRAY & BOB CORRITORE
Sessions, Vol. 2: Cold Chills
(Southwest Musical Arts Foundation SWMAF 17)

Legendaarinen bluespianisti Henry Gray ja Bob Corritore ystävystyivät ja aloittivat yhteisen soittotaipaleen missäpä muualla kuin edellä mainitulla Rhythm Room -klubilla vuonna 1996. “Sessions Vol. 2″ -otsikoinnin tausta-juonteena on viisi vuotta sitten Delta Groove –merkillä julkaistu*Vol. 1 — Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest” (DGPCD 169). Harri Haka esitteli sen Blues Newsin numerossa 4/2015 toivottaen loppulauseessaan kakkososan tervetulleeksi, ja tässä se nyt sitten tulee. Oikeastaan kaikki Harrin tuolloin kirjoittama pätee tälle uutuudelle kuin nenä päähän näin nenäpäivänä, jolloin kirjoitan tätä esseetä.

Äänitysten aikaikkuna on tällä kertaa reippaat kaksivuosikymmentä, 1996-2018 (tosin etukanteen on kirjattu vahingossa vuosiluku 1998). Henry Gray ja Bob Corritore ovatainoat muusikot mukana kaikilla raidoilla. Pianonsoiton lisäksi Gray laulaaiän tuomalla auktoriteetillaan ja sen myötä hieman hauraalla, mutta kuitenkin vakuuttavalla äänellään kahdeksan kappaletta. Muita vokalisteja ovat John Brim, Eddie Taylor Jr, Tail Dragger, Jimmy “Prime Time”Smith sekä Chief Schabuttie Gilliame. Säestysjoukkueen laajuudesta todisteena cd:llä soittaa 10eri kitaristia, kuusibasistia sekä 4 rumpalia. Levyn alaotsikko “Historiallisia bluesäänitteitä Bobin laajoista arkistoista” pitää totta tosiaan paikkansa.

Vielä hieman taustoitusta. Henry Grayn varhaisurasta voi lukea sangen kattavasti Pauli Koivulan mukavasta artikkelista BN:n juhlanumerosta #200 eli 2/2003. Parhaiten Gray tunnettiin bluesjärkäle Howlin’Wolfin luottopianistina 1960-luvun lopuille asti, minkä jälkeen hän on kulkenut pääasiassa sooloartistina omia polkujaan Henkilökohtaisen Henry Gray -historiani merkkipaalu oli vuonna 1970 Excello- ja Blue Horizon -levymerkeillä julkaistu tupla-albumi “Swamp Blues”, jolla oli neljä Henry Grayn silloin korvissanikovindramaattiselta kuulostanutta sooloraitaa. Ihastuin oitis ja olin siitä lähtien myyty mies rämebluesin rytmeille. Poimiakseni tältä levyltä joitain helmiä, avauksena kuullaan yksi Grayn bravuureista Cold Chills, joka saa nimensä mukaiset kylmät väreet kulkemaan pitkin selkäpiitä jo heti lähtökuopissa. Se ja hieman tuonnempana kuultava Ain’t No Use olivat Grayn ja Corritoren ensimmäiset yhteiset äänitteet tammikuussa 1996. Cd:llä on mukana myös heidän viimeiseksi jääneet yhteissoittonsa The Twist ja You For Me tammikuulta 2018. Niistä jälkimmäinen, jolla on solistina kitaristi/laulaja Jimi “Prime Time” Smith on levyn yksi positiivisimpia ylläreitä. Cd:n herkin hetki on Chicagon yhden pikkulegendan, John Brimin parinkymmenen sekunnin mittainen nauhoitettu puhelinsoitto, jolla hän pyytää linjoja pitkin Bobilta päästä soittamaan yhdessä Henry Grayn kanssa. Lopputulemana kuultava Moonlight Blues on Chicagoa isolla “C”:llä. Robert Jr. Lockwood on kitaroineen mukana vain yhdellä raidalla, mutta hänelle ominainen parin säkeen kitarasoolo on jo yksinään yhden cd:n hinnan arvoinen.Tässä vain muutamia poimintoja. Levy on poikkeuksetta täyttä tavaraa, ilman muuta kuluvan vuoden Top-20 -kamaa.

Cd:llä on 15 kappalettä, mutta kansistä on unohtunut tieto, mitkä niistä olisivat julkaisemattomia, samoin puuttuvat tiedot levytyspäivämääristä. Tämä on cd:n ainoa puute ja harmitus kansitekstien muutamien virheellisyyksien ohella. Olin tunnistavinani aiemmin julkaistuiksi ainoastaan kolme kap- paletta ja otettuani yhteyttä Bobiin itseensä sain häneltä pikaisesti vahvistuksen, että todellakinalbumilla on 12 ennen julkaisematonta raitaa. Loistavaa!

Koko 55 minuutin mittainen kattaus päättyy hyvin oivallettuna ja asiaankuuluvan tunteisiin vetoavasti legendaariseen Going Down Slow -hymniin. Gray laulaa itkunsekaisella äänellään “I have had my fun, if I don’t get well no more, ..my health is failing me, and Im going down slow, …don’t send no doctors, doctorscan’t do me no good”. Pianistilegenda kuoliviimehelmikuun 17. päivänä täytettyään vain kuukautta aiemmin kunnioitettavat 95 vuotta. Bluesartistiisolla”B”:llä, RIP Henry Gray.

– Pertti Nurmi



DAVE RILEY & BOB CORRITORE
Travelin’ The Dirt Road (SWMAF 15)


“Original Album + Unreleased Tracks” lukee tämän cd:n etukannessa. Levy onkin kahdella lisäraidalla täydennetty uusiopainos Blue Witch -levymerkillä vuonna 2007 ilmestyneestä samannimisestä julkaisusta. Ne, joilla on alkuperäislevy, saavat kuultavakseen noin seitsemän minuuttia lisää Dave Rileyn ja Bob Corritoren mallikasta yhteissoittoa.

Originaalialbuminkansiteksteissä julkaistut taustatiedot itseartisteista on jätetty pois uusintapainokselta. Sen takia pienitaustoitus on paikallaan Rileyn osalta, koska hän on ollut BN:n sivuilla aiemmin esillä vain yhden levyarvion verran. Hän syntyi Mississippissä vuonna 1949, mutta hänen kasvutarinansa ja vihkiytyminen musiikilletapahtui Chicagossa totutun kaavan mukaan gospelin kautta bluesiin. Tarkemmin sanottuna West Siden karussa ympäristössä ja Maxwell Streetin liepeillä. Hän palveli aikanaan maataan – tai oikeammin ilmaistuna oli sotimassa — Vietnamissa, minkä lisäksi hänellä on takanaan pitkä työura vanginvartijana. Bluesin esittäminen, esiintyminen ja levyttäminen astuivat kuvaan suuremmassa mittakaavassa vasta 90-luvun loppupuolella hänen tutustuttuaan Etelään suuntautuneella sukulaisreissullaan huuliharpisti Frank Frostiin ja rumpali Sam Carriin. Näiden downhome bluesin legendojen vaikutus Rileyn musiikkiin on mitä ilmeisin, eikä vertausJimmy Reediinkään ole kaukaa haettu.

LevytysrintamallaRileyllajaCorritorella on takanaan kaksi muuta yhteistä cd:tä, “Lucky To Bel iving”(2009) ja”Hush Your Fuss”(2013). Omissa nimissään Riley levytti parikymmentä vuotta sitten vallan mainion albumin *Whiskey, Money & Women” Fedora-merkille, säestyskumppaneinaan juuriSamCarrrummuissa sekä poikansa DaveRiley Jr.bassossa. Riley oli myös Carrin liidaaman Delta Jukes –yhtyeen yksivakiojäsenistä ja esiintyi mukana ainakin eksoottista cd-r-julkaisua täydentää miehen diskografiaa.

Alkuperäisen”Travelin The Dirt Road”-cd:n kansitekstin loppukaneettina on simppeli laskutoimitus: Dave Riley + Bob Corritore = Downhome Blues! Asia on juurikin noin, ja kuten jo edellä esitetyistä referensseistä saattoi päätellä. Levyn äänitteet on koottu kolmesta eri sessiosta vuosilta 2005-06. Rileyn ja Corritoren takana soittaa pätevän kitaristin Johnny Rappin vetämä pikkuyhtye, johon kuuluu myös Rileyn poika. Tusinasta raidastakaksi on Corritoren kanssa työparina vedettyjä akustisia duettoja.

Levyn yleisilme on sympaattinen kahden toisiaan erinomaisesti ymmärtävän, tukevan ja tulkkaavan muusikon vuoropuhelu, jota säestysyhtye tukee saumattomasti ja päälletunkemattomasti. Riley laulaa Etelän tyyliin vakuuttavan uskottavasti. Hänen kitaran soittonsaon säästeliästä, mutta tehokasta, kuten tällaiseen tyylisuuntaan kuuluu. Kuuntelijan on siten turha odottaa pitkiä, kosiskelevia vinkusooloja.Corritorestaon kirjoitettu paljon tämänkin aviisin sivuilla. Lyhyesti summattuna, hänoninstrumenttinsa ehdotonta eliittiä.

– Pertti Nurmi



KID RAMOS & BOB CORRITORE
Phoenix Blues Sessions (SWMAF 16)


Kolmas Southwest Musical Arts Foundationintänävuonna julkaisema Bob Corritore -kooste on tämä 1990-luvun lopun ja 2000-luvun alun tallenteista koostuva tuote. Sen rungon muodostaa 2012 ilmestynyt samanniminen pienipainoksinen levy, joka toteutettiin varainkeräystarkoituksissa tuolloin syöpään sairastuneen Kid Ramosin hoitoihin ja kuntoutukseen. Nyt ilmestyneen painoksen kappaleeton miksattu ja masteroitu uudestaan. Arkistoista on kaivettu mukaan kolme ennen julkaisematonta kappaletta ja yksi vaihtoehtoinen otto. Samalla on kuitenkin kolme raitaa jätetty pois. Cd:n tallennustila ei voi olla tähän syyttä, kokonaiskesto on nyt 43:28. Aikanaan totesin levyarviossani(ks. BN 6/12), että tarjolla on laatubluesia ilman kompromisseja.

Bob Corritore soittaa huuliharppua ja Kid Ramos ykköskitaraa levyn kaikilla kappaleilla. Peruskokoonpanossa ovat lisäksiChico Chism (rummut), Paul Thomas (basso), Johnny Rapp (kitara, mandoliini) ja Tom Mahon (piano osassa raitoja). Kid Ramos on kitaristi, joka on ollut monessa mukana. Vai mitä sanottecv:stä James Harman, Roomful Of Blues, Lynwood Slim, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Mannish Boys ja Los Fabulocos? Päälle vielä sooloura, jonka merkeissä Ramos on julkaissut viisi albumia. Lisäksi hän on esiintynyt studiossa ja livenä lukuisten artistien kanssa. Syövästä hän on aikoinaan toipunut ja tätä kirjoitettaessa hän tekeekoronarajoitusten johdostastriimattuja livekeikkoja.

Ramosin kitarointi ja Corritoren harpputyöskentely on läpi linjan laadukasta, samoin kuin muunkin housebandin soitto. Lyhyesti sanottuna tämä jos mikä on sitä old schoolia. Näissä huippusessioissa lauluosuuksia esittävät Nappy Brown, Chief Schabuttie Gilliame, Big Pete Pearson ja Henry Gray, joka lisäksi soittaa pianoa viidellä raidalla. Bonusraita, Eddie Boydin Five Long Years, tuo mukanaan lisälaulajan Dr. Fish. Niin ikään bonusraidalla Mother In Law Blues saa lauluvuoron rumpali Chico Chism. Laulupuolella eniten esiintyy Henry Gray, joka äänitysten aikaan lähenteli 80 vuoden ikää. Tämä eitunnu missään, todis- teena vaikka vauhtipalat Come On In ja They Raided The Joint.

Kaiken kaikkiaan tämä lisäkappaleilla höystetty uusintajulkaisu on hieno blueslevy. Jos Bob Corritore löytää arkistoistaan lisää tämäntasoista aineistoa, on sen julkaiseminen laajemmalle kuulijakunnalle enemmän kuin toivottavaa!

– Harri Haka


Chicago Blues Guide (December 31, 2020)



Phoenix, Arizona-based harpist and club owner Bob Corritore, has taken it as a personal mission to help keep alive the legacies of blues artists, both well-known and obscure, whom he books in his Rhythm Room club and never misses a chance to record when they hit town. Consequently, Corritore has amassed a vast collection of his recorded collaborations with many blues greats, both past and present. These three CDs, released simultaneously, are the first offerings from Corritore’s From The Vault series on his Southwest Musical Arts Foundation imprint, distributed by the Vizztone Label Group.

Henry Gray & Bob Corritore
Cold Chills: Henry Gray & Bob Corritore Sessions, Vol. 2
SWMAF – 17

As a staunch blues traditionalist, Corritore prefers stripped-down settings that showcase his artists in contexts as uncluttered, and emotionally immediate, as possible. Although through the years he has focused primarily on veterans (many still “deserving of wider recognition,” as that irony-laden cliché would have it), he has also taken the effort to recognize younger figures whose careers are still on an upward trajectory.

Here, though, the featured artist is a true “living legend” who garnered international acclaim before his death at age 95 in February of 2020. Pianist Henry Gray was living in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana when he passed; he’d been based there for years, but most blues lovers probably still know him primarily as an important figure on Chicago’s postwar scene, where worked for over twenty years with such blues immortals as Jimmy Reed, Little Walter, Rice Miller (Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2), and, most famously, Howlin’ Wolf. In his later years, Gray traveled often to Phoenix, where Corritore booked him in the Rhythm Room and recorded sessions on him. This disc features tracks from 15 of those sessions, spanning the entire 20 years of their recorded musical relationship.

Although the tracks aren’t in chronological order, it’s clear that Gray’s gifts remained virtually undiminished, even in his 90s. We’re treated to a diverse set, ranging from well-known standards through several previously unheard or obscure rough-cut diamonds, including at least one Henry Gray original (a searing, personalized recasting of “Cold Chills”, actually a Jimmy Reed standard but credited to Gray here, no doubt because of the creativity he brought to this re-imagining). Throughout the set, Gray’s gutsy, life-toughened vocals and evocative piano work – meditative and tender in places, barrelhouse-rattling and jubilant in others – interweaves with Corritore’s harp stylings (he channels the spirits of the ancestors – both Walters, both Sonny Boys, Jimmy Reed – with unerring accuracy) to invoke the sounds of a bygone era, but with an emotional and artistic immediacy that places this music resolutely, and joyfully, in the present tense. (A special, albeit nonmusical, treat is a brief recording of a phone call that the late John Brim made to Corritore, requesting Gray’s presence on an upcoming recording session.)

It should also be noted that a remarkable array of sidemen is on hand – start with Robert Lockwood Jr., John Brim, Chico Chism, Bob Stroger, Eddie Taylor Jr., Tail Dragger, and go on from there – to add further depth and texture to a set honoring music that refuses to grow old, not as an exercise in nostalgia or “revivalism”, but as an in-the-moment celebration of music and life.

~~~

Dave Riley & Bob Corritore
Travelin’ the Dirt Road
SWMAF-15

Guitarist/vocalist Dave Riley was born in Mississippi in 1949; he moved to Chicago with his family in 1961. There he sang in his family’s gospel group, and he also immersed himself in the sounds of the blues, which had waned in popularity but was still a cultural force in the city’s Black communities at the time. He’s been through his share of hard times in life, and it’s reflected in his sound – emotionally intense, a little rough around the edges, featuring his corrugated vocals supported by somewhat elemental but emotionally resonant guitar leads.

This reissue of a disc that was originally released in 2007 includes two tracks that were not on the original. Riley, who wrote ten of the set’s twelve songs, is accompanied by a full band that includes his son, Dave Jr., who has been his regular bassist since 1996 (with time off for Dave Sr. to recover from the effects of a 1998 automobile accident). The band is tight and devoid of flamboyance, straight-ahead in that postwar groove that producer Corrritore loves so much and which Riley himself pretty much grew up on (he has remembered standing outside urban jukes in Chicago, hearing the sounds of blues masters like Howlin’ Wolf emanating from within, and like countless others he bathed in the blues every Sunday morning in Chicago’s fabled open-air Maxwell Street Market).

Although everything here is solidly rooted in that timeless style, within those constraints there’s plenty of variety on offer. Jaunty, irony-laden odes to conjugal discord (“I’m Not Your Junkman,” penned by the late John Weston; Riley’s own “My Baby’s Gone”) share the spotlight with slow-grinding, eros-dripping after-hours squeezefests (“Come Here Woman,” featuring Corritore sounding possessed by the ghost of Big Walter Horton) and Delta-haunted flashbacks (“Doggone Blues,” the appropriately named “Way Back Home”). For devotees of the classic postwar style purveyed by musicians for whom it’s not a relic but a fully contemporary means of expression, this set is highly recommended.

~~~

Kid Ramos / Bob Corritore
Phoenix Blues Sessions
SWMAF-15

Guitarist Kid Ramos may not be quite as well known among the general blues audience as many of the other artists Bob Corritore has showcased in his ongoing series of collaborations, but he does have a notable track record, having released at least five solo albums since 1995 on such labels as Black Top, Evidence, and Rip Cat Records, and with a resume that includes gigs and session work with the likes of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, the Mannish Boys, James Harman, Roomful of Blues, Bobby Jones, Los Fabulocos, and others.

On this disc, originally released in 2012 as a benefit for Ramos, who was enduring a bout with cancer during that time, he and Corritore are accompanied by an impressive array of blues stalwarts, including Henry Gray (piano), Nappy Brown (vocals), Big Pete Peterson (vocals), and Chico Chism (drums), among others. That roster of sidemen and colleagues promises a roots-rich blues set, and from the first bars of “Aw Shucks Baby,” the set’s opener, it’s clear that’s what we’re going to get. As is usual with Corritore’s projects, much of this set sounds as if it’s emanating from long-lost acetates from 1950s-era studio sessions.

Especially notable are the vocalists: Famed blues shouter Nappy Brown, who died in 2008 (it’s clear that not all of these tracks were actually recorded in 2012), brings his powerful, ebullient low-range baritone to “Aw Shucks Baby” and “Baby Don’t You Tear My Clothes” (a hokum-flavored ditty usually associated with either Lightnin’ Hopkins or Smokey Hogg, who gets co-writer’s credit here, but actually first recorded by the State Street Boys, featuring Big Bill Broonzy, in 1935). Outings like “Snakes Crawls at Night,” featuring gutbucket vocals from longtime Rhythm Room favorite Chief Schabuttie Gilliame laid over a raw, edge-of-chaos, juke-rattling backing, sound intentionally crafted to invoke earlier, less self-conscious eras (a paradox, admittedly, but a fun one); the late Chico Chism, who play drums throughout, also contributes his wry, unaffected vocals to Junior Parker’s “Mother-In-Law Blues.”

Pete Peterson’s gristly, somewhat strained-sounding vocal delivery adds both intensity and exuberance to “Natural Ball” (previously unissued) and Little Milton’s “Possum In My Tree”; Henry Gray, sounding as ageless and indestructible as ever, breathes new life into such chestnuts as “Come On In” (credited to one “Harum Scarums” but actually based on a venerable string band / medicine show theme), Elmore James’s “I Held My Baby Last Night,” and his own offering, the rollicking “Talkin Bout You.” Lesser-known singers, such as Dr. Fish on the searing “24 Hours,” also comport themselves admirably.

Corritore, characteristically, gives what amounts to a postwar Chicago harmonica workshop throughout the set, as guitarist Ramos and the rhythm section fire up that jubilant retro-shuffle sound, invoking the glories of a yesteryear that many of these principals lived through, and which the rest, including both Corritore and Ramos himself, have worked earnestly to recreate in their own image.

– David Whiteis