Primer & Bob Corritore – Ain’t Nothing You Can Do! – Delta Groove

Primer & Bob Corritore – Ain’t Nothing You Can Do! – Delta Groove DGPCD175, 52:04 *****:

Modern blues artists bring continuity and style to their craft.

(John Primer – guitar, vocals; Bob Corritore – harmonica; Henry Gray – piano; Barrelhouse Chuck – piano; Big John Atkinson – guitar; Chris James – guitar; Troy Sandow – bass; Brian Fahey – drums)

Blues music is nearly a century old, but feels eternal. From its early pioneers like W.C. Handy, Ma Rainey and Charley Patton through Robert Johnson and Blind Willie McTell, the torch was passed. Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon took blues to Chicago. The music expanded, but never strayed from its roots. Elmore James, Buddy Guy, B.B. King and John Lee Hooker carried the flag and influenced the next generation of blues and rock artists.The up and coming blues players never lost sight of their predecessors. Harmonica virtuoso, session player, blues club owner and record producer Bob Corritore exemplifies this reverence for the genre, more than anyone. He records with a vast assortment of past and present blues musicians on many projects.

His latest release, Ain’t Nothing You Can Do! is classic blues that you would expect from the Delta Groove label. Backed by a stellar ensemble of blues players, Primer and Corritore continue the success of the 2013 collaboration, Knockin’ Around These Blues. A primer original, “Poor Man Blues” kicks off the album. Like he did for years with Muddy Waters, Primer lays down some Chicago-based electric grooves on guitar and utilizes his gravel-infused voice. A second guitarist (Chris James) adds to the toughness of this jam. Corritore blends with the band and is sharp on his solo. The late Barrelhouse Chuck (mighty fine blues name) adds some tinkling piano riffs. Getting closer to Delta country, the band offers a slow-burning take on Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Elevate Me Mama”. It’s endearing to hear Primer introduce the Corritore solo (“…all right Bob”), and then Barrelhouse Chuck who rips on his old school piano runs. The flow of the album resembles a live set. “Hold Me In Your Arms” draws on another blues master, James “Snooky” Pryor. This time 91-year old Henry Gray takes the piano reins and a newer face, Big Jon Atkinson joins in on guitar.

Getting downright nasty, “Big Leg Woman” (a hit for Muddy Waters) exemplifies the sometimes explicit sexuality associated with the blues genre. Primer and Corritore are generous with the session players (in this case, Barrelhouse Chuck and Chris James). Primer and Corritore celebrate their heroes (especially Chicago ones) with sincerity and unabashed enthusiasm. Magic Slim’s “Gambling Blues” is a rough and tumble regret-filled lifestyle observation (“…woke up this mornin’, couldn’t even find me a pair of shoes”). Every Corriotore solo is impressive. The harmonica master shines on the self-penned groove fest, “Harmonica Boogaloo”. The soulful jam seems to incorporate Chicago Blues with some Memphis-style (think Wilson Picket) r & b hooks. Corritore’s wailing and punctuated notation is flawless.

Most of the jams are structured and concise. But on the title cut (not to be confused with the Bobby Bland r& b hit), the musicians really cut loose. At 7:03, it is the longest track on the album. Atkinson offers a searing, jagged solo and the remarkable Henry Gray is rhythmic perfection with pure blues chording. Corritore adds grittiness to his solo.  Anchoring this music is the fervent, pitch-friendly vocals of Primer. He glides through the Don Hix medium-tempo standard, “For The Love Of A Woman” (popularized by the great Albert King). Corritore’s impressive shading frames the bluesy resonance. Even on a well-known tune like Chester Burnett’s “May I Have A Talk With You” (recorded by many, including B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan), the arrangement is crisp, but manages to reflect homage. The finale (“When I Leave Home”) opts for a down-tempo, hypnotic vibe that gives the musicians a lot of room to demonstrate their prowess.

Ain’t Nothing You Can Do! is a great blues album with musical power and reverence for historical context.  

TrackList: 
Poor Man Blues
Elevate Me Mama
Hold Me In Your Arms
Big Leg Woman
Gambling Blues
Harmonica Boogaloo
Ain’t Nothing You Can Do
For The Love Of A Woman
May I Have A Talk With You
When I Leave Home

—Robbie Gerson

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