Rod Piazza is one of the major players of the West Coast Blues Scene. I have been listening to his records since the days of the Dirty Dozen Blues Band on ABC Bluesway in the 1960s. With the Mighty Flyers, he has had one of the tightest, swinging bands of the past several decades. A solid singer and a terrific harmonica player, I have reviewed a number of his recordings over the years, but have noticed that I have not posted any reviews on this blog, so to make up for this omission, I am pleased to post this review of a 2005 Delta Groove release.
Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers have a terrific new disc, For the Chosen Who (Delta Groove), a combined cd-dvd package that may be amongst the best recordings of Piazza’s lengthy recording career. One reason to the Mighty Flyers success as among the blues top touring bands is the band’s stability reflected by the long tenure of pianist Honey Piazza and bassist Bill Stuve. Guitarist Henry Carvajal and drummer Paul Fasulo are relative newcomers to the Flyers and fit in like they have been their for a decade.
This new disc includes a number of choice covers, none of which have been over-recorded from Jimmy Reed’s I’m a Love You, Ted Garrett’s You Can Make It If You Try, John Lee Williamson’s Ground Hog Blues, Ike Turner’s She Made My Blood Run Cold, and a pair from Jimmy Rogers Broken Hearted Blues and Trace of You. On several tracks Phil Guy plays lead guitar, Finis Tasby plays bass and James Gadson plays drums.
Piazza sings as good as I ever heard him and the group as a whole sounds terrific. There are too many highlights to mention as everything is first-rate but Kid Ramos adds some nice lead guitar for Broken Hearted Blues while guitarist Carvajal evokes Turner’s tremelo-laced guitar style on She Made My Blood Run Cold. Ground Hog Blues is a wonderful duet between Honey’s piano and Rod Piazza’s vocal and harp while Shoestring, a Red Prystock number I believe, serves as a showpiece for Rod Piazza’s superb harpwork as is the slow Honey’s Blues, with Piazza playing some brooding chromatic harp while Honey Piazza comes across like Otis Spann with Phil Guy adding some strong fills. Johnny Dyer joins for a vocal duet on Little Walter’s Gotta Find My Baby, while label head Randy Chortkoff wrote and plays harp on Call Me Dangerous.
This disc has a dvd bonus that includes a 23 minute documentary overview of the recording of the cd along with the performers views on this recording and the blues. Two of the performances are also captured on video along with a gallery of photos complete this absolutely terrific blues recording.
This review appeared in the February 2006 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 279). I received my review copy either from Delta Groove or a publicist for the label. It is still readily available.