First thing you need to know about Toronzo Cannon is, playing blues is his second job. And when you first hear this album you are going to say, “Huh?” But it’s true. Toronzo still drives a bus for the Chicago Transit Authority. Maybe not for too much longer…
Coming off what I am hearing was a series of smoking performances on the January 2016 Legendary Blues Cruise where he tore it up jamming with Elvin Bishop, Alligator Records released this album of all Toronzo originals.
Chicago Ways is without a doubt Cannon’s strongest album to date. In part due to excellent production by Alligator El Presidente, Bruce Iglaur, but mostly to the maturity of Toronzo’s own guitar playing and song writing. This album is the result of a lifetime of building chops working with the best bluesmen Chicago has.
The album starts off strong right out of the gate with The Pain Around Me and keeps the groove going with the somewhat humorous lyrics of Bad Contract, burning guitar throughout. What amounts to the title track, Walk It Off, the dilemma you find yourself in when you’ve got a girlfriend and a wife, follows. Some hired horns add tremendously to Fine Seasoned Woman. Various flavors of Chicago blues are delivered in the next several tracks culminating in the slow blues, When Will You Tell Him About Me? which hits hard. The clever shuffle Mrs. From Mississippi and the powerful I Am close out the album
You will hear bits of Magic Sam, Otis Rush, and Son Seals in these songs along with another lesser known Chicago legend, Chico Banks. But believe, it’s all Toronzo paying his respects. It’s the Chicago Way!
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