Bob Corritore & Friends – Do The Hip-Shake Baby!
To say Bob Corritore has friends is understating reality by quite a bit. Recorded over three years, from a total of eight different recording sessions, this collection features close to forty musical acquaintances along with Corritore, who is at the center of everything as usual, blowing fine harmonica accompaniment at every turn. Something of a blues renaissance man, Corritore has a long-running radio program, is a noted producer, and runs the Rhythm Room, a notable blues club in Phoenix, Arizona. Listeners can count on any project he spearheads to be loaded with sounds from some of the finest purveyors of the electric blues tradition.
One look at the credits lets you know that you will be treated to an A-list team, starting with Alabama Mike (Michael Benjamin), who’s energetic style enlivens four tracks. “Gonna Tell Your Mother” is a jumping number while “Few More Days” traces back to early rock & roll records, with Corritore offering a homage to Lazy Lester in his solo. On Asie Payton’s “Worried Blues,” and especially “Stand By Me,” the singer conjures up images of Sam Cooke, his voice so sweet and soulful.
Other highlights come from Sugaray Rayford, recipient of the 2019 Blues Music Award in the Soul Blues Male Artist category, unleashing his powerful voice on “Trying To Make A Living,” his intensity matched by Junior Watson’s impeccable guitar work. Closing out the disc, his uses his original, “Keep The Lord On With You,” as a seven-plus minute testimonial that once again takes us to that dark place where the spiritual and secular elements of life battle for the upper-hand, enveloped by Corritore’s mournful tones and the ministrations of Kid Ramos and Johnny Main on guitar.
Jimmy Reed’s “Bitter Seed” is a fine fit for Oscar Wilson, lead singer for the Cash Box Kings. He uses his deep, rich tone to convey the plight of a man in the throes of unrequited love, with the leader adding some excellent first position harp licks. The ageless wonder, Henry Gray, shows that he can still bring it vocally and on piano on a jaunty rendition of “The Twist”. Corritore has done two albums with John Primer, so it isn’t surprising to find one track from the Chicago guitarist and singer included, “Love Deep As The Ocean,” written by his former bandleader, Muddy Waters. The duo’s deep respect for the music is evident in every note of this standout track. The Fremonts, with singer Mighty Joe Milsap out front, take over on two Slim Harpo tunes, “Shake Your Hips” and “Keep What I Got,” while Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry serves up plenty of heartache with a tale of a cheating man on the smoldering original, “You Better Slow Done”. Corritore’s hearty blowing on “I Got The World In A Jug” makes the track another highlight, with Jimi “Primetime” Smith on lead vocal and guitar, with Fred Kaplan’s rousing fills on piano a constant delight.
Other contributions include the Andy T Band with Anson Funderburgh on two tracks. Johnny Rapp adds guitar on six tracks and L.A. Jones makes one appearance. The bass guitar is covered by Bob Stroger, Adrianna Marie, Kedar Roy, Troy Sandow, Nathan James, Blake Watson, Doug Swanson, and Tony Tomlinson. The drum chair is shared by Alan West, Jim Klingler, Brian Fahey, Marty Dodson, Malachi Johnson, June Core, and Rene Beavers. Other keyboard contributions are courtesy of Larry Van Loon and Bob Welsh.
With so many players involved over numerous sessions, one might wonder if this project really holds up as more than just some disparate tracks thrown together in a rush to get another product out in the marketplace. Anyone who recognizes the majority of contributors knows that all of these players live this music, always playing it with the utmost respect and reverence, yet adding their own interpretations with plenty of individual flair. Bob Corritore is the ringleader, ensuring that the end result is another blue-chip collection that resonates through repeated listens. Look for this one to garner plenty of attention come award nomination time!