Toronzo Cannon review…September 9, 2013…

TORONZO CANNON

JOHN THE CONQUER ROOT

DELMARK RECORDS CD   DE 831

JOHN THE CONQUER ROOT–I’VE BEEN DOING FINE–COLD WORLD–GENTLE REMINDER–IF YOU’RE WOMAN ENOUGH TO LEAVE ME–SHAME–YOU MADE ME THIS WAY–BEEN BETTER TO YOU–BIG RAY BOP–LET IT SHINE ALWAYS–SWEET SWEET SWEET–ROOT TO THE FRUIT…SHE’S MINE (REPRISE)

Toronzo Cannon has seen a lot in his twenty-odd years as a city bus driver for the Chicago Transit Authority.  So much so, that he uses ideas he gets from listening to and watching life go by thru that windshield to create songs for his blues albums and shows.  Yep, as well as a driver, he’s also one of Chicago’s hottest blues guitarists, singers, and composers.  He has just released the follow-up to his debut, “Leaving Mood,” this one entitled “John The Conquer Root.”  It is another sizzling thirteen original cuts that shows his love not only for Chicago blues, but funk, soul, and even gospel as well.

Let’s get right to this great music.  He uses his autobiographical tune, “Gentle Reminder,” to let everyone know that he’s all blues all the time, and is bringing the genre’ into the 21ST Century, because “this ain’t 1952.”  His guitar lights this one up like the sky over Lake Michigan on the Fourth of July, and Toronzo even gives a shout-out to the good folks at Delmark for believing in him.

Toronzo saves some of his best material for his clever insights into life, love, and relationships.  Check out the rockin’ guitar shuffle that defines his plea to a lover to STAY GONE because “I’ve Been Doing Fine” without her!  He gets in-your-face with a cheatin’ lover in the streetwise, “If Youre Woman Enough To Leave Me, I’m man enough to watch you go,” then has a helluva big surprise for another no-good chick in the slow, jazzy, “You Made Me This Way,” who’s about to find out that “you reap what you sow!”

Toronzo shares some poignant moments on this set, also.  “Cold World” lets us all know that nothing in life is guaranteed, and does so over a sanctifying, soul-stirring setting.  In perhaps the set’s most somber cut, Toronzo, along with label mates Mike Wheeler and Joanna Connor, take three unique looks at death, always remembering to “Let Your Light Shine”  no matter what the circumstances.

We had two favorites, too.  Omar Coleman adds some tasty harp over the catchy riff that drives “Shame,” which is a strong social commentary on the fact that no actions come without consequences.  And, in a recent interview for Blues Revue,” Toronzo indicated that he’s a huge Hendrix fan.  On the stellar title cut (and its set-closing reprise) Toronzo uses fuzz-tone leads and crunching riffs throughout in tribute to Jimi, riding a swampy groove to tell the tale of a man who uses every hoodoo, mojo, and voodoo known to man to win over a lover!

Toronzo Cannon is proud to be a “left-handed, Aquarian bluesman” and he’s carrying the torch for the tradition of real-deal Chicago blues.  “John The Conquer Root” is a set that is sho’ nuff’ keepin’ the faith!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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