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Rod Piazza: Here and Now

Singer-harmonica ace Rod Piazza has a more natural, relaxed approach to the blues than Willie Murphy. And his band, The Mighty Flyers, is hipper than Murphy’s Angel-Headed Hipsters. On Here And Now (Tone-Cool 1172A; 48:25) Piazza and company crank out a set of originals with a looser, jazzier rhythmic feel than Murphy and the Hipsters; more roll than rock. Piazza favors the dirty toned approch of Little Walter and his mentor George “Harmonica” Smith, but he also has a capacity for great lyricism on the chromatic harp, as on “Goodbye Lover.” “Brought Together by the blues” is Piazza’s love letter to his pianist Honey Alexander, who he met in 1973 and married in 1989. Honey cuts loose on a Pinetop Perkins-ish boogie woogie “First Love” and contributes mightily throughout with two-fisted comping. The band’s secret weapon, however, is guitarist Rick Holmstrom, a throwback to the T-Bone Walker-Tiny Grimes school of swinging the blues. His warm, grungey tones and rhythmic drive ignite tunes like “Love Doctor,” the shuffle instrumental “Greasy Foot” and the instrumental rocker “Spit Shine.” On Piazza’s jazzy instrumental feature “Strat-O-Spheric” and the Nat King Cole-ish “Every Shut Eye Ain’t Sleep,” Holmstrom emulates the great Oscar Moore with sly phrasing and sophisticated chord voicings that go well beyond the scope of your typical blues guitar slinger. His versatility gives this band a lot of room to play with…all under the big umbrella of the blues.

Originally Published