Currently, Rod Piazza is one of the biggest names in the blues. His band was W.C. Handy awarded the Blues Band Of The Year in 1999 and 2000. In 2001, they received multiple Handy award nominations. As usual, his success did not happen overnight. Piazza spent 15 years working alongside the great George "Harmonica" Smith in Bacon Fat. 'He taught me to always have a plan, to always know what you were going to play before you hit the stage … He didn't want me trying to mimic him' recalls Rod.
After 2 years of silence, his world-wide fans rejoiced at the news of this new release. It is a perfect mix of Chicago Blues and West Coast swing in the vein of William Clarke's Tip Of The Top. Piazza isn't a fan of guitar oriented blues. He prefers the classic blues sounds of the 50's and that is exactly what is included on this CD. The all original 14 track, 55 minute disc contains a variety of styles, from boogie to jump to ballads to shuffles.
You can hear that thick, rich Smith-inspired chromatic harp ripple and pierce on the opener, "What's Goin' On?" Here, Rod sings (almost speaks) the lyrics through his harp-mic. Boogie rock from the 50s abounds on "Love To Spare". The tone of Rick Holmstrom's guitar is taken from a time warp and the classic mood is captivated by Bill Stuve's upright bass. Rod and Rick did a fantastic job in producing the sounds of yesteryear. Steve Mugalian's drum shuffle lays the foundation for "Twist City" while Rod squeals on harp. Husband and wife playfully banter on "If It Is". You will have no doubt as to why Rod is considered to be a star musician when you hear him blow on "Shakin' Hands With The Blues" and "Ghosting". "In A Wrong World" is a simple rhythm that is magnified thanks to the additional presence of horns.
Without a doubt, what impressed me the most on this disc was the work of pianist extraordinaire, Honey Piazza. In 1973 the then Honey Alexander happened to catch a Rod Piazza performance. His band simply blew her away. She found out where his local weekly gig was and started regularly attending it. A few weeks later she auditioned for the band and has been a permanent member ever since. Her Otis Spann influenced stylings are brilliant throughout the CD. Many times, her pianoworks quite literally steal the show as can be heard on "Twist City", "Lovin' Daddy Blues" and "High Flyin' Baby". The best track is the instrumental "Easy Baby" where Mrs. Piazza does what she does best resulting in pure honey. More proof that her time has come is found on the super charged piano shuffle "Miss Bee-Havin'". Don't be surprised if the next disc is entitled Honey Piazza & The Mighty Flyers!
Karen Leipziger's press release accurately describes the CD as having the right mix of tingling guitar, flickering piano, tight bass and crisp rhythmic underpinning. In an era when most scorching/wailing guitar bands get classified as blues it is clear that Piazza's style of real blues is still very much in demand and style.
For CDs, booking and information, contact: Tone-Cool Records, PO Box 81034, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481-0001 USA E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.tonecool.com Artist website: www.rodpiazza.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Tim Holek, 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.