Greg Piccolo – Homage

Greg Piccolo
(Emit DoogMusic – 2001)
by John Barrett

The style has sadly faded – a mixture of jazz, R& B, and the honking power you’d later expect from rock ‘n’ roll. At one time these guys were walking every bar; then the music changed direction and this approach disappeared. Not for Greg Piccolo: after two decades with Roomful of Blues, he can scream with the best of them. Greg is picture-perfect: quoting Lockjaw on “Night and Day”, organist Reese Wynans plays with the timbre of Shirley Scott, who got her start with Jaws. “You Left Me All Alone” is even more like Lockjaw: with a wicked groan, he suddenly surges – a yelp in the midst of a tender cry.

“Soft” has slappin’brushes, Basie chords from Wynans – and a sandpaper horn at low volume. First he whispers, then he breaks into a strut , sounding a bit like Houston Person. “You’re Not the Kind” is based on the Gene Ammons version; Greg has a lighter tone than Jug, but the same force and energy. (The bass-walk is classic; hats off to Marty Ballou.) And “Red’s Blues” simply stomp with a vengeance: Greg takes the “Night Train” chords and milks ‘em for all they’re worth. This sucker is wild, and you hope the blues never end.

We relax a little when “Lester Smooths It Out”:Greg’s tone is here, in more of a wispy presence. Wynans’ solo is a bluesy delight, like the chunky rhythm guitar. Piccolo’s last chorus is stylish and smooth – then comes “Blow Joe Blow”, with more rasp than a hardware store. Inspired by Mighty Joe Houston,you get cavernous honks and stratospheric squeals – it’s a perfect copy. Red Prysock’s “Hand clappin'” starts hot and keeps boiling; best of the disc, by my reckoning. For dessert we get “Over the Rainbow”, a la Ben Webster. Wynans opens sweetly, Greg blows some rough delicacy, and the mood is set. This disc gets most everything right; give it a spin and go back in time.