Harmonica virtuoso Bob Corritore is accustomed to multitasking. He appears as a guest artist on about three albums a year, his Rhythm Room in Phoenix is a nationally renowned venue, he produces a Sunday night radio show and keeps blues fans and artists informed with a highly comprehensive online newsletter.
Corritore’s ninth album, “Taboo,” released today, April 15, is an example of multitasking. He was able to assemble some of the top West Coast players. “When they come to Rhythm Room, I said, ‘Can you also come into the studio?’ And they said, ‘Yes,’ ” Corritore said.
But Corritore wasn’t sure Delta Groove President Rand Chortoff would be so quick to say yes to his idea for his fouth album with the label: An all-instrumental collection highlighting harmonica. But after he heard it, Chortkoff, a harp player himself, said he liked it so much he didn’t take it out his car player for days.
“With this record the harmonica is doing the talking, so I had to have an interesting conversation that was varied,” Corritore told Tahoe Onstage. “I was definitely going to the roots of things, not only 1950s but 1960s influences; and not only in the blues category but in the back alleys of it. I always got a kick out of how blues evolved into rock and roll and how it evolved into certain types of rhythm and blues. I used aspects of all of that. This is the perfect band to accomplish anything that I asked them to do.”
The guitarists are a couple of the best, Jimmie Vaughan and Junior Watson. Fred Kaplan and Papa John DeFrancesco plays keys, Kedar Roy is the electric bassist and Doug James plays saxophone on three of the numbers.
“I came in with rough ideas and they would expand on them,” Corritore said. “And in the process I got to be the centerpiece of their genius. They are making me sound good with the nuances of what they do.”
Harpist Charlie Musselwhite, who gained prominence during his time in Corritore’s native Chicago, agrees in the liner notes:
“He really nails the ’50s Chicago Chess sound, but also exhibits modern ideas, which is very refreshing. The band is all top notch and perfectly sympathetic players. … a dream team band.”
Musselwhite also appreciates some unusual musicianship, fourth and fifth position harp playing that Corritore calls his “secret agent stuff.”
Corritore is sharing secrets just as some of the Chicago greats did with him when he began going to shows as a teenager. Before moving to Arizona, Corritore learned from Chicago harmonica greats Big Walter Horton, Carey Bell and Louis Myers, among many others.
“Certainly when you have been around some of the great guys who have shown you some of the secrets of the blues and you are able to really cull some lessons from their mentorship,” he said. “It becomes your responsibility to keep it going but at the same time there is great joy being able to express yourself through the instrument. Each year I feel I am a little better at it. I have always had the ideas in my head but over the years my ability to be able to develop those ideas is much greater than it ever was. I hope it keeps going.”
So will everyone who listens to “Taboo.”
Bob Corritore, ‘Taboo’
Delta Groove Music