Rod Piazza has set a standard for harmonica virtuosity that has established him as one of the preeminent blues harp players around. The New York Times said, "Rod Piazza has perfected the rough drive and edgy tone that characterized the classic Chicago blues sound of Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson and others in the 50's."
Piazza is also a master of West Coast jump blues, incorporating elements of Los Angeles' postwar jazz, swing and R&B combos.
He's consistently surrounded himself with players who bring out the best he has to offer, and epitomize the very best in blues: fresh, swinging, tasteful, exciting and creative. His band for the last three decades, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, constantly push the boundaries of the blues while still staying true to the spirit and soul of the music. The band's ability to keep the blues vibrant, fresh and alive has led to countless accolades, awards and nominations over the years, including four prestigious Blues Music Awards as "Blues Band of the Year.”
Renowned for their high level of musicianship and showmanship, they virtually created a new style of blues - a combination of low-down Chicago grit, suave West Coast swing and jazz, and the rhythmic drive of the best early R&B and rock & roll. As Blues Revue put it, "Rod and Honey front one of the most popular blues bands in the world. Whether they play at an intimate club, a packed rock room or a huge festival, the Mighty Flyers share with the audience their passionate love of the blues in every show.”
Piazza's infatuation with blues began at a time when many of the masters were still in their prime years, and in the mid 1960’s when the first blues revival was picking up steam, he was in the thick of it.TheCalifornia native began his musical career in Los Angeles in 1965, when he formed the Dirty Blues Band at the age of 18. They released their first record in 1967, which was quickly followed up by a second album in 1968 on ABC/Bluesway Records. At the same time, he was cutting his musical teeth on local club dates with blues pioneers such as Big Mama Thornton, Big Joe Turner, and T-Bone Walker.
Rod then joined his long-time mentor, George "Harmonica" Smith, Muddy Waters' former harmonica player, to form the double harmonica outfit called Bacon Fat. It was through George that Rod learned the power of a dynamic stage performance and developed his prodigious harmonica talents.Says Piazza, "Be yourself, he'd always say."
Rod released two Bacon Fat albums in 1969 and 1970. In 1973 he hired a talented young piano player and Otis Spann disciple named Honey Alexander, who was later to become his wife. In 1976 Rod and Honey began to perform regularly together as the Rod Piazza Blues Band and the Chicago Flying Saucer Band, and by 1980 had become Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers.
Piazza's harmonica technique borders on astonishing - a delicate combination of power and grace that maintains the fattest of tones while alternately evoking classic Chicago styles, interpreting R&B horn lines, or playing his own signature licks.And at this point in his career, Piazza has been recording longer than George "Harmonica" Smith did, or Sonny Boy Williamson (either of them!), or Big Walter Horton. He's been making records for more years than Little Walter was alive.
For more than thirty years now, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers have earned their position in the top ranks of blues acts by putting on crowd-pleasing shows around the world and recording eighteen sterling albums of their earthy originals, rousing jump tunes, earnest boogie, slow blues ballads, and animated instrumentals.
Their commanding performances showcase Rod's searing harmonica, his impassioned vocals and his bar-walking showmanship, punctuated by the two-fisted boogies of pianist Honey Piazza, a highly acclaimed musician in her own right. But any Mighty Flyers show is more than just a harp showcase; it's a group effort by tightly-knit elite musicians whose considerable talents complement one another.
Downbeat explained the Mighty Flyers’ audience appeal as follows: "Harpist Piazza has been leading one of the jazziest of blues bands for years, consistently delivering authentic-sounding blues embellished with a little uptown instrumental class. Piazza's vocal sensibilities and unusually enlightened harp work widen the music still more, creating a distinct and accessible blues approach that doesn't sound like yet another sterile reinterpretation of the tradition."
PCH Club in Golden Sails Hotel - 6285 E. PCH in Long Beach - next to Gaslamp.