The Henry Gray/ Bob Corritore Sessions Vol. 1 – Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest – Delta Groove

The Henry Gray/ Bob Corritore Sessions Vol. 1 – Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest – Delta Groove DGPCD169, 51:14 ****1/2:

(Henry Gray – piano, vocals; Bob Corritore – harmonica; Robert Lockwood Jr. – guitar, vocals John Brim – guitar, vocals; Willie “Big Eyes” Smith – drums, backing vocals; Nappy Brown – vocals; Tail Dragger – vocals; Dave Riley – guitar, vocals; Bob Margolin – guitar; Johnny Rapp – guitar; Kid Ramos – guitar; Big Jon Atkinson – drums, guitar; Little Frank – guitar; Kirk Fletcher – guitar; Chris James – guitar; Danny Michel – guitar; Doug James – tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Bob Stroger – bass, backing vocals; Pops Macfarlane – bass; Paul Thomas – bass; Kedar Roy – bass;Patrick Rynn – bass; Mario Moreno – bass; Troy Sandow – bass; Yahni Riley – bass; Chico Chism – drums; Brian Fahey – drums; Steve Cushing – drums; Eddie Kobek – drums; June Core – drums)

Henry Gray is approaching seven decades as a blues artist. He is credited with developing the Chicago blues piano style. Gray has played with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Lockwood Jr. Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, Little Milton and The Rolling Stones. He has recorded more than fifty albums, including several for Chess Records. Like so many blues legends, he represents the essence of blues music. A generation younger, Bob Corritore is the embodiment of blues. His technical acuity on harmonica and deep appreciation for the genre is unsurpassed. He is a working Phoenix club owner, writer, performer, session player and producer. In typical blues symmetry, the tradition of blues is carried on by the connection of older and younger performers. In 2015, Corritor and Gray combined on a mutual project.

The Henry Gray/ Bob Corritore Sessions Vol.1 is a massive shot of blues. Featuring a cadre of exceptional blues musicians, there are fourteen tracks (from twelve individual sessions) of spirited music. “Let’s Get High” gets things started with a barrelhouse piano by the ageless pianist and singer. Corritore adds his trademark crisp harmonica licks as a vocal call and response enlivens the festivities. Getting down and dirty, “Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest” is visceral with Gray’s heartfelt singing. Throughout the album there are skilled guitarists helping out.  Robert Lockwood Jr. is outstanding (including vocals) is excellent on “Rambin’ On My Mind”.

The agony of blues is not lost on Gray. The slow-burning ”Trouble Blues” boasts slide guitar licks (Bob Margolin) and the heavy roadhouse slow-blues tempo makes this Lowell Fulson composition timeless. Above all, this is a celebration with the hard charging “They Raided The Joint” and “Boogie Woogie.” Changes of pace are just as good. And Corritore is artistic and respectfully complements Gray. It is a celebration and the “dialogue” riffs on “Boogie Woogie Ball” between Gray and Tail Dragger will produce a smile on any blues lover’s face.

The myriad of musical genres is enticing. Buuy”I’m In Love Again” is old school jump swing with punctuated horn choruses.  Nappy Brown handles the vocals on the traditional “Ramblin’ On My Mind”. Corritore’s harp runs are backed by Kid Ramos (guitar). Every guest player is memorable. Dave Riley growls out “Ride With Your Daddy Tonight” with up tempo grooves to spare. Corritore adds considerable muscle to this jam and Riley is equally adept on guitar. The finale is the ultimate blues lament, “She Don’t Move Me No More”. At 90 (and one of the tracks was recorded recently). Gray can display prominent blues verve.

Bring on Volume 2!

TrackList: Let’s Get High; Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest; I’m In Love Again; Ramblin’ On My Mind; Worried Life Blues; They Raided The Joint; Ride With Your Daddy Tonight; Trouble Blues; I’m Gonna Miss You; That Ain’t Right; Can’t Afford To Do It; Boogie Woogie Ball; Honey Don’t Let Me Go; She Don’t Move Me No More

–Robbie Gerson

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