(2011 'Delmark') (60:19/14) Toronzo Cannon, Jahrgang 1968, ist zweifelsohne eine der Bluesüberraschungen des Jahres! Erstaunlich, mit welchem Selbstbewusstsein er seinen eigenen Songs arrangiert und interpretiert. Sein Gitarrenton ist satt, manchmal kräftig angezerrt und laut mit viel Sustain. Sein Gesang ist kraftvoll und eigenständig und verbindet Blues mit Soul. Jahrelang hat er sich mit schlecht bezahlten Jobs durchgeschlagen. Das könnte sich mit diesem herausragenden Album ändern! Sehr zu empfehlen
'My grandfather's records were consistent blues.' remembers Toronzo, who was born in Chicago on Valentine's Day. 1968. 'And then when my aunts and uncles would come over. that's when the blues would be played. Whenever there was a family thing – like my aunt. my uncle, my grandfather's brother and his wife. they would come over and play cards and all of that stuff, and at family reunions, you [would] hear the music.' It was in the air around the neighborhood. as well.
Toronzo grew up on the South Side. not far from Theresa's Lounge, the legendary little basement juke at the corner of 48th and Indiana where Junior Wells held forth whenever he was in town. 'My uncle, Richard Cannon. worked for Theresa's.' he recalls. 'He worked down in there' a general overall guy. That's how he got to play drums with Buddy [Guy] and Junior whenever their drummer was late. I used to go to Baldwin Ice Cream, my brother and sister and I, right down the street from Theresa's, about half a block. I would look over the banister, because I knew my uncles hung out there.
I couldn't get in, of course, but I would just look down there to see what's going on. All this stuff started coming back to me when I started playing guitar years later.' By that time. Toronzo was in his early 20s. and he still wasn't thinking of himself as a bluesman. 'I was listening to a John Cougar song' it had a heavy acoustic sound in it. My sister was taking piano lessons. and I asked her, and she bought me an acoustic guitar, a Harmony. at a pawn shop. And that's how I started. 'I was listening to a lot of reggae, too. at the time: I'd look at videos of Bob Marley playing. and that's how I learned my chords. I knew of Hendrix, but I didn't really 'know' Hendrix when I started playing guitar. I heard tapes of him, but they were always bootleg tapes, not good quality. But then when I saw a videotape. it just freaked me out.'
The pieces were coming into place. but it took some immersion in the live music scene for the aspiring young fretman to find his blues inspiration – which, in his case. meant re-kindling something that had been dormant inside him for years. 'When I had a jam to go to.' he explains, 'it would be a blues jam. My aunt's records and my grandfather's records and my uncles' and all of that started coming back [to me]' I was like. 'Oh. okay – all right!' I started putting names with the stuff that I used to hear –the Tyrone Davises and the Johnnie Taylors, and then the Muddys and the Howlin' Wolfs and all of that — I just got more into it.
Going back, thinking about my grandfather's music, my aunts and uncles. and Theresa's. and all that stuff started coming back — 'Okay. wow, dig this!' Man. I lived in a rich blues neighborhood and didn't even know it!' Toronzo's first professional gig was with vocalist Tommy McCracken at the Taste of Chicago. the city's annual lake front food festival, in about 1997. Since then, he's become steadily active on the Chicago scene as both a bandleader and a sideman, and he's also been received enthusiastically overseas. In 2007. his self-released CD MY WOMAN garnered critical and popular acclaim. As this disk shows. Toronzo's gifts — as both a lyricist and an improviser — continue to develop and become richer. That shouldn't be surprising, considering the role models he's acquired over the years. 'Elmore James. J.B. Hutto, Hound Dog Taylor,' he enthuses, 'those guys put chill bumps on my arms, and they make my eyes well up with tears sometimes. When they come to that down-home, hollerin' type blues. those cats kill me, man, and I love 'em. I wanted to kinda give a shout-out to that kind of blues. She Loved Me is like [Muddy Waters' version of Slim Harpo's] King Bee, like a dirty kind of King Bee-type thing...