Review: Rod Piazza and the All Mighty Flyers – Almighty Dollar

Posted on: Wednesday, Aug 24, 2011


Rod Piazza and the All Mighty Flyers
Almighty Dollar
Delta Groove Music

Rod Piazza and the band formerly known as The Mighty Flyers are now slightly rebranded for The 21 century as The All Mighty Flyers. On this latest release on the high class Delta Groove label Rod and the band rock, stomp, shuffle and swing through a dozen tunes – mainly covers this time out, with just two Piazza penned originals.

The CD kicks off in fine style with “Move Out Baby” a mid tempo almost back to front shuffle featuring a driving left hand piano from Honey Piazza with the tenor sax of Jonny Viau punctuating the verses. Rod plays the chromatic on this one with his patented huge tone large as a double decker bus, it’s classic Piazza phrasing and one can tell that he’s not exactly holding back.

Henry Glover’s “What Makes You So Tough” puts the band firmly in Ray Charles mode with a blues hook for the head but with gospel changes and gospel backing vocals. Another great appearance from Jonny Viau, superb throughout this release, see him trading call and responses in the short solos.

“Blue Shadows” if I’m not mistaken is a re-recording of an earlier Piazza recording, this time with a fantastic long solo from Oakland native Rusty Zinn sitting in with the band on a good half of the tracks – and boy does he sit in!

“Wine Wine Wine” is a slab of early 50s R&B with Rod asking for his wine. His 3rd position solo is so fluent and I could imagine him being able to groove on that feel all day.

We are firmly back in classic R&B territory with a cover of the copper bottomed 1920s Porter Grainger classic “Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do”. I always love eight bar blues and there is lovely playing from the stripped down band on this one – just piano, upright and drums on this one I think. For my money the vocals could be a lot stronger on this one – but it is beautifully played – a great solo from Honey.

Rod covered a lot of Little Walter early in his career, he still gives 50s Chicago a kick every now and again. On the instrumental “That’s it” the twin guitars of Rusty Zinn and regular band member Henry Carvajal lock perfectly into that classic no-bass groove backed by the impeccable drumming of Dave Kida. This is very authentic and sympathetic to the era, any retro harp player would kill to sit in with this band.

“Baby Don’t Go” is the weakest on offer I think. It is a little unimaginative in the groove and the lyric however is lifted by a sweet T-Bone inspired solo I think by Zinn. It’s well played but nothing new.

Rod turns sideman to play some sweet harp fills on a 50s Chess Muddy Waters shuffle “Loving Man”. The vocals are very well delivered by Jonny Dyer and Vida delivers some great shuffling. The more authentic vocal make this a highlight for me. The whole band is lifted and bounce along beautifully.

Piazza delivers a great toned intro on the low F to kick off his original tune “Almighty Dollar”. With 46 years of experience Rod understands the difficult life of a professional musician – always hustling. More great locked guitars on this one and the electric bass of Norm Gonzalez.

“We Belong Together” goes back to the sound of the streets of the 1950s the post war hip-hop of doo-woo. This has to be the music of Rod’s youth a simple harmony sung love song. It’s a lovely distraction on a CD that, apart from this song, is pure blues. Guitarist Carvajal delivers the vocal really well – quite a pleasant surprise, I have to admit shamefully that I didn’t know he could sing. This song also comes in at a 78 inspired sub-three minute duration.

Dyer is back on “We Belong Together” going back to 50s Chicago on a Jimmie Rogers flavoured mid tempo shuffle. Again lovely 50s style locked guitars on this, powerful left hand piano and lovely playing from Rod.

An instrumental closes the CD: A classic Piazza fast shuffle with the harp to the fore. Gotta be in the key of E I thought on first hearing and I was wrong – it’s in D. Again a back street club approach, stripped down two guitars and drums – the guitars locking it all down beautifully.

Rod has gone for a big sound on this release, adding extra musicians to complement his regular touring band. It is also beautifully produced thanks to Rod’s experienced producer ears and the might of Delta Groove Records.  There is plenty for the harp lovers with lots of playing in the three main diatonic positions 1st, 2nd, 3rd and of course his superb chromatic work. Rod does a good job with his voice but let’s understand that he’s never been an amazing singer. After 40 plus years in the business he can still release a good record, however it’s not massively different from any number of his earlier records but not lacking the drive of say “Harpburn” or “Start to Finnish” that were part of the sound of my 1980s.

This CD would make a great purchase for Piazza first timers as the playing is superb and the recording quality is massively better than those classic 80s recordings. It’s not just a harp record though there is plenty for all, with hat tips to the entire band along with the quality guests Rusty Zinn, Jonny Viau and the superb Jonny Dyer.


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