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Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers Blues Quartet - ThrillVille

By James “Skyy Dobro” Walker

14 songs; 60:34 minutes; Excellent

California harmonica master Rod Piazza’s job is to perform blues music and make blues music records. It is a job he does extremely well, but while this latest CD is solid blues in every way, it comes across as exactly that – he did his job. Where is the drive, the spark, the excitement? Having just reviewed last week a truly energetic album by a new band, The Insomniacs, the contrast is too great.

In an unusual move, Piazza has recorded as a quartet with no bass player. His wife Honey on piano handles the bass chores with her left hand. Unfortunately, that takes away the boogie woogie piano solos that were often the best part of a Rod Piazza album and live performance.

Henry Carvajal remains on guitar, expertly filling a role created several band formations ago by Junior Watson. Dave Kida on drums rounds out the quartet, and JohnnyViau and Allen Ortiz add saxophone to five of the 14 tracks.

Given complete creative freedom by Randy Chortkoff, founder of Delta Groove Music, Piazza self-produced ThrillVille as the culmination of 40 years of honing and crafting his music - a heritage that began with the Dirty Blues Band and Bacon Fat, followed by the formation of the Chicago Flying Saucer Band, which ultimately gave birth to the Mighty Flyers.

The result is an album full of diversity that is a good mixture of his spirit, creativity and experience. Expect great covers of Jr. Wells’ “Hoodoo Man Blues” and “Stranger Blues” popularized by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee plus their own noted groove on “Honey Bee” and Rod experimenting more on vocals with the R&B number “It Can’t Be True.”

 While the album won’t ignite any forest fires, Piazza fans will not be disappointed.

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