In Chicago’s blues community, everybody knows Toronzo Cannon, although outside of the Windy City his name is less recognized. For years he battled it out on Chi-town’s ﬁercely competitive circuit. Having paid his dues as a sideman and bandleader, it’s on this new album that Cannon is fully unleashed.
Using a core group of musicians that include drummer Brian “BJ” Jones, bassists Larry Williams and Dave Forte, and Roosevelt Purifoy on keys, Cannon gets an assist from other talented musicians as well. Drawing from the full range of the black experience, Cannon channels Hendrix for the title track, an R&B/gospel inﬂuence on “Cold World,” and the funk of Albert King on “Been Better To You.” Forgoing obsessive-compulsive guitar tones in favor of pure expression, soul, and stories, Cannon’s guitar bites, stings, and spits.
Cannon’s music sits ﬁrmly between Chicago’s brutal asphalt and it’s unforgiving winters. He gets a vocal assist from Joanna Connor and Mike Wheeler on the beautiful acoustic ballad “Let It Shine Always,” with Connor lending high-octane virtuoso slide playing on the John Lee Hooker-esque “Sweet, Sweet, Sweet.”
Throughout John the Conquer Root, Cannon displays the grit, artistry, and musicality of his native Chicago. – Oscar Jordan
This article originally appeared in VG‘s May ’14 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.