Greg Piccolo has been a major force in horn-based, jump blues since his involvement as a founding member of Roomful of Blues. Despite his significant impact on this particular blues genre, Piccolo's roots and influences become abundantly clear when you attend his live shows or listen to any of his solo releases. Piccolo loves the sound of a big, honking tenor sax and will blow himself blue in the face in an attempt to recapture the sounds of his horn heroes including Illinois Jacquet, John Coltrane, Red Prysock, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Lester Young, just to name a few.
On Piccolo's fourth solo release, Homage, Piccolo focuses exclusively on his jazz heritage, covering 12 songs by some of jazz greatest horn players. Backed by a fine collection of musicians; Marty Ballou (upright bass), Bobby Ruggiero (drums), Jeffrey Cashen (guitar) and a laid back performance by keyboardist Reese Wynans, former sideman for Stevie Ray Vaughan.
The CD features several songs by saxman Illinois Jacquet, including the opener, "Illinois Blows The Blues." The rest of the recording covers a number of styles and moods, ranging from a smooth version of Cole Porter's "Night and Day" and a powerful version of Red Prysock's "Handclappin'". The recording finishes with a very cool version of the classic "Over The Rainbow," where Piccolo really hits the mark with his presentation of Ben Webster's memorable version.
Even for the blues purist, Homage scores because of the passion that Piccolo puts into his performance. For those interested in learning more about the origin of the songs on the CD, the liner notes are particularly illuminating in describing the inspiration for the twelve songs.
Whether he is blowing the blues or belting out a classic jazz tune, Greg Piccolo is an exceptional sax player and a fabulous musician. On Homage, Piccolo displays his tremendous skills while paying his respects to some of the most renowned jazz players in history, creating a very entertaining and listenable piece of work. To obtain a copy of Homage, visit your local record shop or visit Greg Piccolo's website at www.gregpiccolo.com.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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