Rod Piazza and the MFBQ
Rod Piazza’s come a long way since he first began playing the harmonica back in 1964. The Southern California bluesman soon hooked up with blues vet George “Harmonica” Smith—who also served as a mentor to dozens of West Coast harp players—with whom he spent some 15 years before forming his own band, The Mighty Flyers, in 1980. Now, after a couple dozen recordings and various label hops, Piazza is back with a “new” group: The Mighty Flyers Blues Quartet. Gone is longtime bassist “Groovy” Bill Stuve. Pianist Honey Alexander (aka Ms. Piazza) is now handling the bass chores which, unfortunately, means much less of her killer solo keyboard work—long one of the group’s main attractions. Despite the popular dictum that “less is more,” such is not the case here. At 61, Piazza’s vocals sound tired and his distracting use of an echo effect on several numbers (especially Slim Harpo’s classic, “Queen Bee”) results in a garbled, unintelligible mess. Out of the 13 songs it pains me to say I can’t find much to recommend, however Smith’s “Sunbird” is notable for the harp and piano solos. For a real hit from the band I had to go back to 1991’s Black Top CD Blues in the Dark, with guitarist Alex Schultz, Stuve and drummer Jimi Bott.