Arthur Migliazza – Laying It Down
Hobemian Records 2014
13 tracks; 51 minutes
Arthur Migliazza is a piano player from the Pacific Northwest and although there are a significant number of other players on this album, it is really all about Arthur’s abilities on piano. However, for the record, drums are played by Andy Roth and Eric Eagle with Kelly Van Camp on one cut; bass is mainly Keith Lowe with Ed Friedland on one track; guitar duties are handled by Jeff Fielder and Bill Molloy; harmonica is added to two tracks by Grant Dermody and Sean Devine; Suzy Thompson plays fiddle on one track and Jimmie Herrod adds harmony vocals on one track. The tracks were recorded at three different studios in Seattle.
As one might expect there are versions of several pieces by the masters of boogie and stride piano such as Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis and Professor Longhair as well as more rock and roll styled material from the likes of Fats Domino and Huey Piano Smith. Arthur also writes and there are four of his own compositions, including the opener, entitled “Overture” which ranges far and wide across piano styles to whet our appetite for what will follow. Fats’ “I’m Ready” and Huey’s “Rockin’ Pneumonia & The Boogie Woogie Flu” establish Arthur’s rocking credentials as well as showing that he has a good voice. Although both songs are very familiar Arthur’s versions are strong and make for an excellent opening salvo. Next up is Albert Ammon’s “Boogie Woogie Stomp”, the first genuinely solo piano piece and Arthur shows he can match Albert’s style on this mid-paced boogie tune.
Co-written with Laura Martin who plays guitar on the track, “Love You Mama” is dedicated to Arthur’s mother and is a rolling blues with harp adding colour to the warm and personal lyrics. A medley of Louis Prima’s “Sing Sing Sing” and J Fina’s “Bumble Boogie” follows with dramatic jungle drums before Arthur’s sprightly, jazzy piano takes up the familiar refrain before diving into the amazing bumble bee rhythms of the second tune – a tour de force. That is followed by P Barbarin’s “Bourbon Street Parade” which takes us down to New Orleans and their street parades which we get straight away from the marching drums and the fiddle which very effectively replaces the clarinet which would be typical of the occasion in NO. Arthur’s piano and vocals are very effective on this track which also features some banjo in the central section. Arthur’s “Thank You Blues” is a slow blues instrumental with harp and some delicate blues guitar from Bill Molloy. Another instrumental in completely different style follows as Arthur barrels through “Honky Tonk Train Blues”, a Meade Lux Lewis tune much favoured by piano players – even Keith Emerson of ELP used to do this one!
“Suitcase Blues” (Rey/Thomas) is another solo piece from Arthur, a blues with lyrics about ‘rambling’ and ‘setting sail’. Arthur does a fine job in playing this one solo with both right and left hands seeing plenty of action. WC Handy’s “St Louis Blues” is often cited as one of the very first recorded blues and Arthur delivers a laidback version with just gentle drums and acoustic bass in support. “Professor Calling me” is credited to Arthur and H Byrd – Professor Longhair – and returns us to NO with an affectionate lyrical tribute to the Crescent City and arguably its greatest ever piano player before a second Albert Ammons piece “The Boogie Rocks” closes the CD with a final solo piano tune from Arthur.
This is a fine album which will definitely find favour with fans of piano-oriented music.