Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Greg Piccolo and Heavy Juice: Red Lights

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Red Lights, Heavy Juice’s second album, is less varied and exciting than Acid Blue, its 1995 debut. There’s the feeling of an inviting, in-the-groove R&B date, but this one lacks the electricity of its predecessor. On Red Lights Piccolo sings more and has a greater number of original tunes. Healso plays alto saxophone in addition to his usual tenor and guitar. The first album included additional horns and Ron Levy on organ. This one features Piccolo’s working band: organist Barry Seelen, bass guitarist Ed Spargo, drummer John La Moia and percussionist P.J. Plenninger. (In all fairness, Acid Blue was a knockout, a hard act to follow.)

After more than 20 years with Roomful of Blues, Piccolo knows how to sell a band (without selling out its integrity) on the gig and on records. Performances such as “Cleanhead” Vinson’s “Old Maid Boogie” and Ray Charles’ “What Would I Do Without You” travel time-tested blues and R&B paths, while Piccolo’s “My Baby’s Gone (Alicia’s Song)” show a softer ballad vocal style reminiscent of John Pizzarelli. For his tough tenor work, there’s nothing like Freddie Mitchell’s “Moondog Boogie.”

Listeners need working bands like Heavy Juice and Roomful of Blues. They offer accessible music-accessible in two ways: tune-wise and travel-wise-and they convey the beat and communication of a lived-in ensemble.