Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers
Beyond The Source
Beyond The Source is Rod Piazza’s first release since receiving five nominations in last year’s W.C. Handy Awards. His band won the Handy Award in 1999 and 2000 for Best Blues Band of the Year. It’s clear that this California band knows something about playing the blues. But instead of being beyond the source, this CD has returned to the source. Almost every song off this 14-track offering has a distinct ’50s, early rock sound. The Mighty Flyers consist of Rod Piazza on harmonica and vocals, his wife Honey on piano, Bill Stuve on upright bass, Steve Mugalian on drums, and Rick Holstrom on guitar (who has his own solo album on Tone-Cool).
In addition to the ’50s rock sound, The Mighty Flyers mix a little jazz, boogie, and swing, making for some happy blues tunes. The opener, “Who Knows What’s Going On” is a real head-nodder, with a jazzy tempo that tells the spirited story of one hot babe that may be up to some shaky deals. The song features two harmonica solos that have to put a smile on your face. “Love To Spare” follows featuring Rod’s smooth vocals contrasting against Rick’s fuzzy guitar notes. Rod and Rick complement each other on a harp/guitar instrumental break showing off that band interplay that has always translated over very well on the live stage. From “Twist City” to “Reece’s Boogie,” the early rock vibe becomes prominent. Even the titles are reminiscent of some golden oldies. “Shim Sham Shimmy” features Honey Piazza doing a Jerry Lee Lewis homage on piano. “High Flyin’ Baby” has background singers doo-wopping the harmonies. Honey’s funky piano playing comes through on “If It Is,” which acts as a musical dialogue between husband and wife.
I didn’t get the feeling that Rod was trying to move beyond the source on the CD, but he was definitely tapped into it. The entire band excels at putting out jazzy, blues music that has warmed audiences across the continent. This time around Rod and the Flyers put a little early rock in the jump boogie blues. And this time, Rod might be taking home a few more Handy Awards for himself and the band.