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February 2023

Jimi "Primetime" Smith & Bob Corritore
The World In A Jug
SWMAF / VizzTone

Jimi Primetime Smith

Jimi "Primetime" Smith has been on the Phoenix blues scene for around seven years since relocating from Minneapolis, with his musical roots stretching back to both the Twin Cities and Chicago. His music has been heard on several of the compilations put out by musical partner Bob Corritore, but we now have a full album in The World In A Jug (SWMAF / VizzTone).

Smith handles guitar and vocals on all ten cuts and Corritore provides his usual exquisite harmonica accompaniment. They are backed by a host of the usual session cats that Corritore brings into the studio, with these recordings taken from four sessions done between 2017 and 2020, with the exception of two numbers recorded live at Corritore's landmark blues club, The Rhythm Room.

Opening the album is the title cut, an up-tempo 12-bar blues with good harmonica by Corritore and piano from Fred Kaplan. This one was written by Smith's blueswoman mother, Johnnie Mae Dunson Smith. Up next is the Freddy King blues classic, "Love Her With A Feeling," with Smith pumping plenty of emotion through his vocal chords. Smith then does his best Jimmy Reed imitation on his own composition, "You For Me," a mid-tempo shuffle with Corritore playing his harp notes in the higher register of the instrument, while the recently-departed Henry Gray provides a hot piano solo.

Another Smith original, "Blinded," may be the hit of the album. It's an up-tempo B.B. King-style blues shuffle, with strong guitar from Smith and a dirty harmonica solo from Corritore. Another original, "In A Spin," is a slow, jazzy blues with Corritore switching to his chromatic harmonica and Smith laying down an appropriately tasty guitar solo.

Feeling hungry right now? If not, you will be when you hear "Soul Food," as Smith sings about everything he wants to eat while backing singers Celia King and Eboni McDonald egg him on. This one has kind of a Five Royales feel to it, at least until Corritore's harp playing and the sax work of Doug James gives off the mood of a Chicago blues club in which someone is cooking barbeque and collard greens in the back room.

"Walkin'," another Smith-penned song, is a mid-tempo shuffle that's highlighted by a very, very hot slide guitar solo, before the beat slows down for another song by Smith's mother, the Jimmy Reed-style "We Got To Stick Together." That leads into Smith's own "Southbound," an up-tempo 12-bar blues with the whole band giving off more of a jangly sound.

The World In A Jug concludes with one more Smith original, "Fire And Ice," a slow blues in the style of Muddy Waters, with our star capturing the mood quite well. Smith gets the Muddy vocal style down right, and he and Corritore trade instrumental breaks throughout, with the harmonica parts being exceptionally strong.

It's been a long wait for Smith to step to the front with his own recording, with A World In A Jug being just what the blues doctor ordered. He's still young enough for at least another ten or so albums, so this is a good start.

--- Bill Mitchell

 

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