Bob Corritore “Vault” series unlocks fine blues gems

Harp impresario Bob Corritore has created an oasis for the Chicago blues in the Arizona desert. Well, in the city of Phoenix, which is on the edge of the Sonoran Desert. Close enough.

Bob was born in Chicago, where he first soaked up the blues, but took his talents and interests to Phoenix in 1981, where he now has his own club, The Rhythm Room. And where he has brought dozens of great blues players to perform and record, and where he seems to have an almost unlimited supply of great unreleased music stored away from all those sessions.

And, not incidentally, it’s an oasis that allows the Chicago blues spirit to not only live on, but to thrive. Bob’s specialty seems to be tough, down-home Chicago blues, and they come across with grit and grease in his music.

If you’re familiar with his work, you already know what I mean. If not, you owe it to yourself to check out his music. Bob is a master of the traditional blues harp, and constantly surrounds himself with other great bluesmen. They’ve always got music that’s worth a listen. Check out his catalogue.

Now you can get a chance to hear some of what he’s been doing over the years. Corritore has just released three albums take a look back of some of those fine recorded moments. It’s his “From the Vault Series,” produced by his Southwest Musical Arts Foundation, and found on the VizzTone label.

Dave Riley & Bob Corritore – “Travelin’ the Dirt Road.

This was an album Corritore released with Mississippi bluesman Dave Riley in 2007, plus two unreleased tracks in this new edition. The two artists complement each other beautifully, and their tough blues on the title track is a great example.

Kid Ramos & Bob Corritore — “Phoenix Sessions”

California-born Ramos and Corritore work on this Vaults release from four recording sessions from the late ‘90s to the early 2000s. They wove their music around powerful vocals by greats that include Henry Gray, Nappy Brown, Big Pete Pearson, and Chief Schabuttie Gilliame.

Henry Gray & Bob Corritore — “Cold Chills”

It’s a tough choice, but this is my favorite of the three albums, mainly because I enjoy the soul-churning piano of Henry Gray so much. Gray, who died just last February at the age of 95, had been an annual feature at Corritore’s club since 1996, performing and recording during his visits. These 14 cuts include turns by some greats, including John Brim, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Bob Margolin, Eddie Taylor, Jr. and Tail Dragger.

These are all thoroughly enjoyable albums, filled with some great old-school blues that seems to be getting harder to find these days. And, like Gray, they are filled with some musicians who have left some masterful musical memories. The phrase “real deal” is overused a lot, but it’s a good choice here. This music is the real deal.

Here’s a sample of the kind of music you’ll hear on these sessions: Henry Gray & Bob Corritore “Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest” live @ 2016 Blues Blast Awards.

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