Jimi “Primetime” Smith & Bob Corritore – World in a Jug | Album Review

Jimi “Primetime” Smith & Bob Corritore – World in a Jug

VizzTone Records/Southwest Music Arts Foundation VT-SWMAF-24


10 songs – 43 minutes

Two native Chicagoans with deep roots in the blues, guitarist/vocalist Jimi “Primetime” Smith and harp player Bob Corritore now call the Phoenix, Ariz., area home, where they’ve worked together frequently since reconnecting in the Southwest seven years ago. But they team on a full-length CD for the first time with this pleasing album, a star-studded effort chockful of plenty of Windy City appeal.

Jimi’s son of the legendary Johnnie Mae Dunson, who began her career as a drummer and gutbucket singer on Maxwell Street in the 1940s, wrote songs with both Muddy Waters and bandmate Jimmy Reed, worked with Willie Dixon and others and was an annual fixture at the Chicago Blues Festival prior to passing at age 86 in 2007. Reed taught him how to play six-string when living in the family’s home.

Now in his early 60s, a Minnesota Blues Hall of Famer and a booming baritone vocalist, Smith worked for years in support of Etta James, Albert King, Otis Rush, Bernard Allison and others before debuting as a front man in 1998 with Give Me Wings on the Atomic Theory imprint and Back on Track on Cold Wind in 2007. In the years since, he’s been a first-call session musician for John Primer, Sugaray Rayford, Johnny Rawls and others.

One of the most frequently recorded artists in the blues today and a product of Chicago’s north suburbs, Corritore’s a self-taught harmonica player who cut his teeth playing behind Tail Dragger and Willie Buck on the city’s West Side. Based in Phoenix since 1981, he’s owned and operated The Rhythm Room – one of the most important stops on the blues highway – for the past 32 years.

All of the material here was captured between 2017 and 2020 at either Tempest Recording in Tempe or live at The Rhythm Room. Jimi provides guitar and vocals on all tracks along with Bob on harp in a lineup that includes Henry Gray, Fred Kaplan and Shea Marshall on keys, Johnny Rapp and Patrick Skog on guitars, Bob Stroger, Yahni Riley, Troy Sandow and Tony Tomlinson on bass, and Brian Fahey, Marty Dotson and Allen West on drums. Celia King and Eboni McDonald provide backing vocals and Doug James sits in on sax on one cut.

“I Got the World in a Jug,” first released on the Magic label by Dunson and Reed in 1963, opens atop a driving shuffle with Smith declaring: “I’ve got all of you women right here under my command” as Corritore rips and runs with fat single-note runs and chords in support. The action slows for the stop-time, Freddie King pleaser, “Love Her with a Feeling,” before the action ticks up a notch or two for “You for Me,” a Jimi original that borrows heavily from Reed’s “You Don’t Have to Go” complete with Bob working the high end of the reeds.

The medium-fast shuffle, “Blinded,” gives Corritore plenty of space mid-tune to show off his chops on chromatic before the sound takes a major shift with “In a Spin,” a quiet, Latin-tinged ballad on which the focus centers on Smith’s voice before a haunting solos that open on harp and close on guitar and include tasty organ runs from Marshall. “Soul Food” – a sprightly rocker first recorded by Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers in 1963 – precedes “Walkin’,” another number with traditional West Side Chicago flair.

Originally the B-side of the song that opened, Reed and Dunson’s “We Got to Stick Together” kicks off with a solitary guitar run. It’s a molasses-slow shuffle that flows into “Fire and Ice,” which comes across with Muddy Waters feel, before the rapid-fire “Southbound” urges a lady to climb aboard for a trip down South atop a rolling railroad shuffle to close.

If you’re a fan of old-school blues, you’ll love this one. Traditional to the core, it’s as old-school never boring and always fresh.

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