October 1999

Bob Corritore - All-Star Blues Sessions
Released: 1999

by Todd Warnke

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

[Reviewed on CD]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, All-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.