Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Arthur Migliazza Laying It Down

I remember seeing a 13-year old Arthur Migliazza at the (Washington) DC Blues Society jam when it was held at Takoma Station Tavern and Judy Luis-Watson was conducting the jam. Like others, I was impressed by this prodigy playing straight boogie woogie piano. It was not long after that when his family moved to Tucson. Judy Luis-Watson was an instructor at the Augusta (WV) Heritage BluesWeek which Arthur would start attending and became introduced the the late Ann Rabson who became his mentor. Over the intervening decades, Arthur himself became a regular instructor at BluesWeek as well as the Port Townsend Blues Workshops and become known for the level of his blues and boogie woogie playing.

The level of his piano playing can be enjoyed on his Hobemian Records debut Laying It Down. If he opens with an overture that mixes a variety of piano styles and followed some New Orleans oriented playing in renditions of songs associated with Fats Domino and Huey Piano Smith (a Professor Longhair influence is present on the rendition of Rocking Pneumonia & The Boogie Woogie Flu), followed by his fine playing on Albert Ammons Boogie Woogie Stomp. Its a performance, along with a performance of Meade Lux Lewis’ Honky Tonk Train Blues, that displays how well he has absorbed the styles of the two Chicago boogie woogie masters.

Love You Mama is a Chicago-styled blues based on Junior Wells recording Little By Little, with Grant Dermody contributing harmonica and Laura Martin guitar. A medley of Sing Sing Sing/Bumble Bee Boogie is a good display of how deft and skilled a pianist he is if it is a bit kitschy to these ears. Suzy Thompson’s fiddle adds a bit of skittle quality on an enjoyable Paul Barbarin’s Bourbon Street Parade. Migliazza channels Otis Spann on Thank You Blues (with harmonica from Sean Devine) and does a nice reworking of Hersal Thomas’ Suitcase Blues, one of a several songs on which his direct, heartfelt vocals can be heard on.

Migliazza’s boogie woogie variations on St. Louis Blues is a fine rendition to join versions by Earl Hines, Albert Ammons and Bob Seeley and perhaps the highlight of a very solid collection of boogie woogie and piano blues performances. Arthur Migliazza has  established himself as a significant voice in the boogie woogie world and listening to him Laying It Down, one expects his audience will expand beyond that.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here ia a video of Arthur Migliazza playing Handy's St. Louis Blues.

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