2012-05-29Nick's Picks: 03 She Loved Me; 04 Meant To Be; 13 Baby Girl FCC ALERT: "Clean" Review by Steven "Nick" Nickelson of Toronzo CannonLeaving Mood : Chances are you never heard of Chicago blues guitarist Toronzo Cannon, but that’s okay because he’s probably never heard of you either. When it comes to blues, he’s a relatively late bloomer, having grown up in a blues-endowed South Chicago neighborhood where an uncle occasionally subbed on drums for Buddy Guy and Junior Wells at Theresa’s, a nearby, now legendary blues outpost. It wasn’t until Cannon was close to 30 when he played his first blues gig and has been increasingly more active on the scene ever since. Like Grandma Moses, Toronzo Cannon talent can be expressed at a later age – and Torronzo has jumped into the talent pool with both feet!! What is most impressive (IMHO) is his songwriting genius, which he combines with amazing axe slinging! Of course, it certainly helps his cause to have seasoned and talented band members (plus guest performances by the legendary Carl Weathersby and Matthew Skoller). This is Toronzo's third commercial release, and his first on his own (Delmark) label, but the quality and smooth meshing of the instruments and vocals bespeaks a band with considerably more experience than I had come to expect from a Bluesman I had never heard of. What's most eye-opening for me is the focus on telling a short story in each song that he writes; yet, there is still room for some powerful, gritty, and soaring solos (“She Loved Me”), sandwiched between some tight sets. Also, I have to credit Steve Wagner for his part in producing, mixing, and arranging. Most of the arrangements on this cd have a rhythmic, hypnotic funky edge to them (“Baby Girl”). I have to quote Dan Willging of Denver, CO for the following spot-on (read as “I couldn't have said it better”): “The fact that he doesn’t overplay his solos keeps the listener locked into the engaging story lines (“Earnestine”), some of which stem from observing life in a bus driver’s seat, his day job (“She Loved Me”). On “Open Letter (To Whom It May Concern),” Cannon cleverly uses an attention-getting dirty mic as if he were speaking through a distorted megaphone at a street rally. “Leaving Mood” is even better— Roosevelt Purifoy’s suspense-mounting keys hints at a showdown, only to end with thundering gunshot as the suicidal protagonist pulls the trigger for the last time. “Chico’s Song” pays homage to the late great Chico Banks, whose friendship meant a lot to a young budding bluesman in a dog-eat-dog scene. With this solid release in hand, Cannon’s a bluesman worth knowing”. And that's my two nickels' worth........................Nick Bio: Growing up in the shadows Chicago's blues mecca, Theresa's Lounge, had a lasting effect on Toronzo Cannon. As a kid, Toronzo would listen to the raw, soulful sounds of legends like Junior Wells, Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters. "It wasn't just the music that got me, but the effect on the people. I knew right then, that was what I was gonna do." These experiences led him to pick up his first guitar as a teenager and begin to learn to sing and play the sounds he heard. Inspired by the three Kings (Freddie, B.B. and Albert), a little Hendrix and some 70's R&B/Soul, Toronzo soon developed his own sound. "If I wasn’t gigging I was hitting every jam session I could find. I couldn’t get enough." It was during this time that he developed his own powerful, gospel-flavored vocal style and electrifying stage presence. After playing rhythm guitar with local artists like Wayne Baker Brooks and Joanna Connor, Toronzo decided to form his own band, The Cannonball Express. He immediately was in demand, playing some of Chicago’s greatest blues venues like Buddy Guy’s Legends, House of Blues, Kingston Mines, B.L.U.E.S, Blue Chicago, Lee's Unleaded as well as shows from Kentucky to Delaware and Iowa to Indiana. He also became a popular festival attraction, playing The Chicago Blues Festival for 8 consecutive years and the 2008 San Jose Blues Festival with other local young guns Chico Banks and Mike Wheeler. Internationally, Toronzo has been flown into Latvia as a featured solo artist three times over the past few years and has just completed a successful tour in Mexico, Durban South Africa and France 2011. The Musicians: ・ Toronzo Cannon – songwriter, vocals, lead guitar ・ Lawrence Gladney – rhythm guitar ・ Roosevelt Purifoy – piano, organ, Rhodes ・ Larry Williams – bass ・ Marty Binder – drums Special Guest Musicians: ・ Carl Weathersby – guitar (tracks 5, 11) ・ Matthew Skoller – Harp (tracks 2, 6, 9) The Songs: Disk I: 1. She Loved Me (T. Cannon) 2. Chico's Song (T. Cannon) 3. Come On (L. Gladney) 4. I Believe (T. Cannon/L. Gladney) 5. Hard Luck (T. Cannon/L. Gladney) 6. Open Letter (To Whom It May Concern) (T. Cannon/L. Gladney) 7. I Can't Take Her Nowhere (T. Cannon/L. Gladney) 8. Leaving Mood (T. Cannon/L. Gladney) 9. She's Too Much (T. Cannon/L. Gladney) 10. You're A Good Woman (T. Cannon/L. Gladney) 11. Earnestine (T. Cannon) 12. Do I Move You (N. Simone) 13. Baby Girl (L. Gladney) 14. Not Gonna Worry (M. Wheeler)
The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.