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CD REVIEW -- Breezy Rodio
GLT blues radio

BREEZY RODIO

Sometimes The Blues Got Me

Delmark Records

Breezy Rodio Sometimes The Blue Got Me CD

By Linda Cain

When it comes to the blues, Italian bluesman Breezy Rodio (a.k.a. Fabrizio) wears his heart, soul and passion for the music proudly on his sleeve. The talented guitarist also wears his major influences well: T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, Albert King.

Fabrizio Rodio followed his muse, moved to Chicago from Rome and spent 10 years apprenticing with local blues veteran and mentor Linsey Alexander before going solo. (They still work together in the studio, with Rodio contributing his guitar skills to three of Linsey’s Delmark albums). A singer, prolific songwriter and skilled guitarist, Breezy self-released two CDs during that time. The second disc, 2015’s So Close To It, received critical acclaim and hit the blues charts, which afforded Breezy the opportunity to tour the world.

And now with Sometimes The Blues Got Me, Breezy makes his very impressive Delmark debut with this 17-song album filled with 11 originals (including the title track) and vibrant covers of timeless songs by B.B. King, Albert King and T-Bone Walker.  Rodio’s lengthy woodshedding has paid off. He is now a master of retro blues styles and deftly puts his own stamp on cover versions, along with his memorable originals. The guitarist’s clear-toned and powerful string bending takes us through a range of emotions. Breezy’s axe can tug at your heartstrings or make you want to hit the dance floor.

For instance, the self-penned instrumental “Cool Breeze In Hell” evokes Albert King’s sizzling style as Breezy and the band serve up breathtaking, hard-hitting blues, enhanced by Sumito “Ariyo” Ariyoshi’s sparkling piano and propelled by Lorenzo Francocci’s drums and Light Palone’s bass.

On the love ballads, the singer’s starry-eyed vocals really connect with the listener’s heart, especially if the audience is female. His rendition of B. B. King’s ballad “I Love You So” is torridly romantic and heartfelt, even more so than B.B.’s version. It may take some getting used to hearing B.B. King’s lyrics sung by a dreamy dude with an Italian accent, but Breezy’s delivery is so fervent, you know he’s truly feeling the blues.

Throughout this very enjoyable album, Fabrizio’s versatility is on display: from ‘40s style swing and jump blues, to Chicago style lumps and double shuffles, and funky urban Chicago blues. The arrangements are full and lush, always showcasing the stellar horn section, while the beats are pulsing and passionate. And he has some equally versatile help.

Many of Chicago’s finest blues players contributed their talents in the studio, including: Sumito “Ariyo” Ariyoshi and Luca Chiellini on piano, Chris Foreman on organ, Joe Barr on background vocals, Billy Branch on harp and vocals, Light Pallone on bass, and Lorenzo Francocci on drums. Also contributing their stellar talents are: Simon Noble on harp, Brian Burke and John Lauler on acoustic bass, Rick King and Greg Essig on drums.

And then there’s the magnificent horn section -- four of Chi-town’s best jazz and blues blowers: Ian Letts (tenor sax), Constantine Alexander (trumpet), Art Davis (trumpet), Ian McGarrie (bari, alto, tenor saxes).

As a songwriter, his first language may be Italian, but Breezy has got the blues lingo down pat. His bouncy shuffle, “Doctor From The Hood,” isn’t about an MD. No, this is a Dr. Feelgood who will prescribe weed for a headache, champagne for a sore throat and “if you’re really dying” you get cocaine. And if that doesn’t work there’s a therapeutic harp solo from the great Billy Branch, along with some medicinal blues piano from Ariyo.

Breezy takes on B.B. King’s tale of woe, “Don’t Look Now, But I’ve Got The Blues” and gives it his own forceful rendition.  Breezy’s tortured vocals makes us believe he has truly lived this tale of heartbreak. Troubles everywhere. I act like I don’t care…I’m gonna go somewhere else. And cry these tears all by myself.

For the Albert King tune, “Wrapped up in Love Again,” Breezy again sings and plays like he means it and has lived it: You don’t wanna marry me/ You just wanna be my friend. You feel his frustration and wonder: who is this lady who is putting him down? Come on baby/ I want you to marry me he pleads with both his guitar and voice, while the punchy horns echo the desperate sentiment.

Breezy takes a detour from hard core blues with his dreamy, poetic ballad “Fall in British Columbia.”  He’s in love with a girl named Amanda in Canada.  She’s sweet as the Spring in the region of Umbria/ She’s nice as the Fall in British Columbia. (Who would have thought to rhyme British Columbia with Umbria?!)

Chicago’s maestro of the B-3 Chris Foreman floats his soulful organ behind Breezy’s romantic vocals and spare jazzy guitar picking. Art Davis’ inspired trumpet solo perfectly conveys romantic longing. Breezy’s lonely guitar solo ends the tune on the perfect note. Beautiful!

How committed is Breezy to the blues? In his original “Let Me Tell You What’s Up” he spells it out in no uncertain terms: Because I love to play guitar/ from town to town/ from bar to bar/ And yes my wallet is very light/ I am a blues man, you got that right!  Yes, he would even choose blues over a woman as he declares: I won’t ask you to leave/ I won’t ask you to stay/ Girl you’d better realize/ Blues until I’m old and gray. Breezy’s guitar has the final say with an expressive B.B. King style solo, accented by the majestic horn section as the tune fades out.

 The blues has always been about powerful and passionate emotions mixed with universal truth about life’s experiences. The blues can only be conveyed by singing and playing from the heart. You can’t just dabble in blues music and sound convincing. You have to commit to the playing the blues. With Sometimes The Blues Got Me, Breezy Rodio has proven he’s paid his dues and can proudly wear the title: Blues Man. Blues fans will want to add this highly recommended disc to their collection.

To buy the CD, visit: http://www.breezyrodio.com/

Linda Cain is the editor and founder of Chicago Blues Guide and also a blues drummer.

 

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