Monday, August 22, 2011

Rod Piazza Cautions About The Almighty Dollar

There is a certain predictability with a new recording by Rod Piazza. One can expect crisp, excellent musicianship, wonderful ensemble playing, full-bodied , rollicking boogie-laced piano and steady vocals. The new Delta Groove release by Piazza and the Al Mighty Flyers, Almighty Dollar, is no exception.

Its the stability of Piazza and Flyers that plays a major factor in the consistent strong swinging sounds Piazza produces. Honey Piazza has been pounding the ivories for several decades with Rod, and while drummer Dave Kida and guitarist Henry Carvajal have been with Piazza for a number years now. Johnny Dyer adds vocals to a couple tracks, while Rusty Zinn adds his guitar to a number of selections and Johnny Viau plays saxophone on several selections as well.

The songs are mostly interpretations of older songs with an original blues and instrumental contributed by Piazza. The covers are thankfully not of songs that have been done to death. The set opens with a hot Jimmy Liggins jump blues, Move Out Baby with terrific solos from Ms. Honey and Piazza followed by What Makes You So Tough, originally waxed by Teddy Humphries for King with fine sax and a terrific harp solo set against a stop-time groove. Then there is rendition of Jimmy Binkley's swinging cocktail blues, Wine, Wine, Wine, with a terrific harp solo. There is a terrific cover of a lesser known Muddy Waters tune, Loving Man, with a fine Johnny Dyer vocal and the band wailing behind him like the classic Waters Band and some great harp. Piazza contributes a nice original topical blues, Almighty Dollar.

Of the better known covers, Blue Shadows, has one of Piazza's best vocals here while Rusty Zinn conjures up Johnny 'Guitar' Watson with his fiery guitar solo. Dyer handles the vocal on a solid rendition of Confessin' the Blues, based on little Walter's recording. For some reason Walter is wrongly credited on the CD as having written this Jay McShann and Walter Brown classic. Honey Alexander sits out two Harmonica features for Rod, That's It, a Little Walter instrumental and stellar harmonica romp, Con-Vo-Looted. Rusty Zinn shares Carvajal on guitar to recreate the feel of the classic Little Walter recordings.

There is plenty of exceptional music here. Even when Rod is not out front, the musicianship is first-rate. Almighty Dollar is another marvelous addition to Rod Piazza's substantial body of recordings.

My review copy was provided by a publicist for the label.

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