Don't make the mistake of thinking of Rod Piazza as one of the "young turks" of the blues, or part of the "new generation" of blues greats. At this point in his career, Piazza has been recording longer than his mentor 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. Piazza is a tried-and-true, dyed-in-the-wool blues veteran with credentials that are second to none.
From his first recordings as a leader in 1967 fronting the Dirty Blues Band, through his multiple Blues Music Award-winning releases with his current band, the Mighty Flyers, to his countless appearances both live and on record with legendary blues figures, Piazza has set a standard for harmonica virtuosity that has established him as one of the most influential living blues harp players. 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.
Born in 1947, Piazza's infatuation with blues began at a time when many of the masters were still in their prime years, and in the mid-1960s when the first blues revival was picking up steam, he was in the thick of it. By the 1970s, he'd already released five albums and was one of the leading lights of the West Coast blues scene. In the early '70s he joined forces with Otis Spann disciple, Honey Alexander (now his wife) on piano, and when they formed the Mighty Flyers over three decades ago, his career really hit its stride. Since then Piazza and the Mighty Flyers have won or been nominated for just about every award that can be bestowed upon a blues band, played literally thousands of gigs around the world, recorded over a dozen highly acclaimed releases, and along the way 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. Quite simply, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers are one of the best, most experienced, and most distinctive bands in blues today.
On his first release in 2005 for Delta Groove Music, “For the Chosen Who,” Piazza and his Mighty Flyers get back to the roots of what drew them into the blues in the first place, while at the same time investigating the funkier side of things by bringing in a lineup of very special guests. Buddy Guy’s brother, Phil Guy, contributes lead guitar, as does former Fabulous Thunderbird, Kid Ramos. Blues star Finis Tasby and session king James Gadson drop in as well, providing a smokin’ rhythm section on four tracks, and blues legend Johnny Dyer duets with Rod on Little Walter's, “Got to Find My Baby.” The album elicited terrific reviews from fans and critics alike, and the following year the Mighty Flyers received their fourth win for Band of the Year in the 2006 Blues Music Awards.
Piazza returned in 2007 with his follow-up album, “ThrillVille,” along with the newly rechristened Mighty Flyers Blues Quartet. Longtime standing Flyers member, Bill Stuve, exited the band, while drummer Dave Kida, whose resume included touring and recording behind Janiva Magness and Doug MacLeod, replaced Paul Fasulo on drums. Guitarist Henry Carvajal carried on in his role of bringing a whole new dimension to the classic Flyers sound with his tough West Coast Fender Strat attack and passion for vintage doo-wop and R&B, while Rod and Honey continued to demonstrate their life-long passion for the blues by showcasing the dynamic interplay between Rod’s stratospheric harp and Honey’s blistering boogie-woogie piano, further augmented by her left hand now doubling down as the quartet’s thundering bass. The result is an album that Rod says “…is one of the toughest and strongest records I’ve ever made.” After racking up eleven Blues Music Award nominations, Honey Piazza finally took home the trophy for Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year in 2008, based on the strength of their latest effort.
Piazza’s third Delta Groove platter, “Soul Monster,” landed in the summer of 2009. A masterpiece and melding of soul, talent and art, there are plenty of thrills to be found as the Mighty Flyers continued to soar to new heights. IT’S ALL HERE… from the aggressive George Smith instrumental, “Sunbird,” to the deep blues recital of “Tell Me About It Sam,” to the Jimmy Forrest jazz-influenced, “Hey, Mrs. Jones.” Piazza delights as he breathes life into funky new originals and pays loving tribute to a pantheon of blues greats, including Little Walter, Jimmy Reed and Slim Harpo, as well as many more surprises along the way.
In 2011 Piazza produced his fourth and most recent release for Delta Groove Music, “Almighty Dollar.” This time out, the Mighty Flyers rocket into the stratosphere as Piazza pilots his crew through another harp-fueled voyage, propelled by some very special guests, including Bay Area guitarist Rusty Zinn, Mississippi-bred bluesman Johnny Dyer, SoCal bassists Hank Van Sickle on acoustic and Norm Gonzalez on electric bass, along with saxophonist, Jonny Viau, from San Diego. That same year the Bay Area Blues Society presented two awards to Rod and Honey Piazza in the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame, including Harmonica Player of the Year and Keyboard Player of the Year respectively.