Japanese Release Liner Notes
Arizona based harpist, Bob Corritore was born in Chicago in 1956. Awakened to jazz at the age of 12, he started his career as a blues harpist at 18 in the clubs of Chicago.
In 1979, he founded the Blues Over Blues label, and produced Little Willie Anderson and Big Leon Brooks albums. Although Anderson was not well known, his album was well received because of the gorgeous back up artists such as Lockwood, Sammy Lawhorn, Fred Below and expressed the 50’s Chicago Blues atmosphere. This album was reissued on Earwig.
After playing in Chicago for a while, Corritore shifted to Phoenix, Arizona in 1981. Phoenix is more known for the pop number than blues, it is a mystery why he chose to live in this town.
Corritore opened the club Rhythm Room and performed himself, organized concerts with many blues artists, started his radio program “Those Lowdown blues” and diffused the blues to town. He also made a record featuring the local blues artists.
This CD is a collection of the recordings of the sessions of Corritore and local musicians with the blues artists he invited to Arizona. The wide range of the musicians alone show the Corritore’s excellent production taste. The recordings spans from 1986 to 1998, a result of the long term steady activity.
Any player would dream about playing with who and who, or making a record with such and such. While making an electric record with Robert Johnson is not possible who could help envying being able to play with all these great artists…There should be a reward to initiate the whole scene from scratch.
Although the album is titled Bob Corritore’s All Star Blues Session, he intends to stay in background. He plays a lot of solos, but seems to concentrate on backings. He seems to regard his role to highlight the featuring artist to their utmost, and it causes immense sympathy.
The line up of the featuring artists is not only substantial but fairly unique.
(1) Lil ‘Ed
The CD starts with Lil’ Ed, the best living successor of Elmore’s bottleneck slide. Born in 1955, he records his debut album on Alligator in 1986. Had been in Earwig for a while and went back to Alligator in 1999, and recorded superb “Get Wild!”. He is also known as nephew of the slide guitarist J.B. Hutto, and the song “Hip Shakin'” is one of Hutto’s masterpiece (from the album “Hawksquat”). Corritore blows chromatic harmonica. It is a rare case you hear Lil ‘Ed with harmonica.
(2) Jimmy Rogers
Second track features Jimmy Rogers whose passing was greatly grieved in 1998. Those in love with 50’s Chicago blues should once wish to play with Rogers. Corritore from Chicago should have been baptized with Rogers as well. This 1992 recording shows Rogers in good shape. The well known song is from the masterpiece Chicago Bound. The last recording of Rogers featured rock star guests including Clapton and Jagger, but this track with a bare 50’s mood surpasses by far to show the artist’s character. Corritore’s harmonica does not show too much technique, but has enough of a Chicago feel to move Rogers’ spirit. Who would ask for more?
(3) Robert Lockwood Jr.
I don’t need to explain Lockwood…the cornerstone of 50’s Chicago Blues and on his own way since the 1970’s. Harpists would be tempted to do “Take A Little Walk” or Robert Johnson like songs, but Corritore chose the most Lockwood of all Lockwood after the 1970’s, the Jazz Blues Instrumental (original by Wes Montgomery). This is the oldest recording of this CD from 1986. You can get dreamy on the superb adlib introduction not possible without Lockwood. Corritore plays harp in place of saxophone.
(4)(7)(3) Henry Gray
Henry Gray visited Tokyo in 1998 as a member of Chicago All Stars with Hubert Sumlin and Little Smokey Smothers. Once a pianist to Howlin Wolf Band, he is the purest down home pianist in Louisiana. As we see three songs featured, Gray and Corritore seems particularly intimate. The photo of two at the Grammy awards is on Corritore’s website. It says when the tribute record to Howlin Wolf was nominated to Grammy, Gray invited Corritore to the venue. (4) is downhome blues standard known best as Big Walter’s. Howlin’ Wolf’s (7), and a deep and heavy Gray’s original (13), they are all in strictly down home Chicago style. Corritore blows unplugged harp on (4), which could be the best harp playing on this CD.
(5)(10) Clarence Edwards
The appearance of Clarence Edwards was a little surprise. Edwards was born in 1933 near Baton Rouge, his first recording was done in 1959 by Prof. Harry Oster. He can be heard on Arhoolie’s superb “Country Negro Jam Session.” He is a rare living bluesman who keeps Lightnin’ Slim manner. (5) is known as “Stack O Dollars,” a favorite of the artist sang on his first recording as well. (10) is also frequently recorded favorite by Arthur Crudup, fully swampy. Corritore’s turning to Lazy Lester, or Slim Harpo’s style in the latter. It’s natural for a harpist to be fond of the Southern taste of this kind.
(6)(14) Chico Chism
Chism, singing on these two tracks is a drummer/singer based in Arizona. Originally from Southern California, he moved to Shreveport, Louisiana after the military service, starting his own band and recording. He moved to Houston with TV Slim and toured with Bobby Bland, Jr. Parker package show. Two songs from his 1957 recordings are reissued on Red River Blues from Ace. He played drums in Chicago from 70’s to 80’s, including Howlin Wolf band, before moving to Arizona. His steady beat on tracks with Lil’ Ed, Jimmy Rogers, Henry Gray proves his experience. He should be a good partner of Corritore in supporting the Arizona Blues scene.
(8) R.L. Burnside
His appearance is also fairly surprising. The title track of Burnside’s Fat Possum album from 1998, “Come On In” was recorded live at The Rhythm Room under the production of Corritore. You can hear Burnside playing his favorite “Goin’ Down Slow” backed up by Arizona Allstars, and it is interesting to see the different side of this artist. A matching unison of Burnside’s guitar and Corritore’s harp can be heard.
9) King Karl
I was personally most surprised at the appearance of King Karl. He has solo single of his own but best known for the singer of Guitar Gable band. He sang the famous ballad “This Should Go On Forever” and other of Gable’s Excello recordings in late 50’s. The featured tune “Cool Calm Collected” is also the song Gable/Karl recorded on Excello in 1957. This song is written by Karl.
(11) Bo Diddley
I don’t need to explain anything about Bo Diddley, the man, Bo, the originator of his rhythm and the rock n’ roll era. His music was originally heavily influenced by Gospel and Blues. This song can also be heard on his first recordings, in which Billy Boy Arnold played harp.
(12) Jimmy Dotson
This was also a surprise. He is Louisiana singer/drummer born in 1934 near Baton Rouge, who made singles around 1960 on Zynn and Rocco. Two songs from his 1962 Home Of Blues recording can be heard on P-Vine Club “Feel Alright.” He is occasionally playing New Orleans clubs with Tabby Thomas. This recording is from 1990 session. He only sings on this rockin’ number with full of Louisiana taste. This sympathetic backing reflects Corritore’s commitment to Louisiana music.
(15) Dino Spells
I must confess I don’t know much about this musician but I see his name credited as sax and guitar player on the album of Johnny Tucker, the drummer who once visited Japan with Philip Walker and Lowell Fulson. The down home one-chord boogie reminds of John Lee Hooker. Corritore’s harp is adding depth effectively. Spells deserves greater attention hereafter.
(16) Nappy Brown
Nappy Brown is the originator of the Ray Charles’ popular Gospel blues “The Right Time” and is one of the singers who adopted Gospel to blues at the earliest stage. His Savoy recordings in the ’50s should not be missed. He had been on and off for a while, but constantly working after 80’s and releasing albums from Ichiban, Black Top, New Moon, etc. Has been to Japan a couple of years ago. In this track, the remake of Charles Brown’s “Drifting Blues”, he shows both sweet voice and shouts with a veteran’s edge. It’s surprising how vibrant he sounds. This tune is not particularly Chicago style but melds nicely with Corritore’s harp. Other than the front artists, Pinetop Perkins, Bob Margolin, Rusty Zinn, and Kid Ramos can be heard in the band.
Corritore organizes the whole session playing acoustic, amplified and chromatic harp in turn. His attitude represents nothing but the genuine love of Blues. As long as he lives, Blues should prosper in Arizona.
Liner notes by Hitoshi Koide
Hitoshi Koide is the guitarist to Japan’s leading blues band “Roller Coaster”. He contributes to numerous blues publications in Japan.