Al Basile Sets July 15 Release Date for New Jazz CD, Swing n’ Strings, on Sweetspot Records, Produced by Duke Robillard
Basile Will Perform Special CD Release Show on Thursday, July 24, at Rhode Island Historical Society’s “Concerts Under the Elms” in Providence
RUMFORD, RI – Singer/songwriter/cornetist Al Basile announces a July 15 release date for his new swing-based jazz CD, Swing ‘n Strings, produced by Duke Robillard, on Sweetspot Records. Backing Al Basile (cornet and vocals) on the new album are Marty Ballou (bass) Fred Bates (guitar)., Rich Lataille (alto and tenor sax) and Bob Zuck (guitar and vocal on “I Know What I’ve Got, Don’t Know What I’m Getting”).
To launch the new disc, Al Basile will perform a special CD release show with the members of the band who recorded the new album with him on Thursday, July 24, at the Rhode Island Historical Society’s “Concerts Under the Elms” series in Providence.
While a complete departure from his recent Woke Up in Memphis CD released in May, Swing n’ Strings is a natural progression for Al Basile, whose sound is informed by many influences, including, blues, soul, gospel and - in this case - jazz. The drummer-less band is modeled on the Ruby Braff-George Barnes quartet and gives Al a chance to sing songs from the Great American Songbook that first influenced his singing and songwriting, and stretch out on longer cornet solos than he usually takes on his other CDs.
“I was already working with Duke Robillard on my tenth solo CD, Woke Up in Memphis, for my Sweetspot label, which used him and his band to back me on 14 of my own new songs in a ’60s Memphis soul/gospel/R&B vein – very different from the swing-based jazz of Swing n' Strings, especially when it came to the vocal style,” explains Basile. “It made for a busy and rather schizophrenic summer and fall for me, as we worked on both records simultaneously, often switching from one day to another. But it was exhilarating as well. I'm especially proud of the way Fred and Bob took to the studio experience, which was a newer one for them than for the rest of us. It's certainly a lesson on how one rainy day's disappointment can be transformed into a lasting source of satisfaction.”
The “rainy day” circumstances on how Swing ‘n Strings came to be recorded, originated from a situation that initially didn’t start off so promising, according to Basile. “We were booked to play an outdoor concert for the Rhode Island Historical Society's summer series in July of 2013,” he recalls. “It had been a long time since we'd played out, so it was easier to work up a new set list and new arrangements than to try to remember the old ones. Fred and Bob began meeting at my house for rehearsals in February, and they did a lot of great work arranging the songs we chose for two guitars and bass. We brought Marty and Rich in for later rehearsals and were ready to play when heavy rain on the day of the concert forced a cancellation. The Historical Society had already committed their rain date to a band which had been rained out earlier in the summer, so the best they could do was offer us a date in 2014. This was very kind, but I knew it involved a problem: since we worked so little, we would have no chance to repeat the new arrangements enough to set them in our memories. After a year passed they'd be forgotten.”
At this point, a special opportunity presented itself to Al that enabled him to utilize both the new songs and arrangements in a recording situation and have them ready to perform when the 2014 concert series show came around. “I got a brainstorm,” he remembers. “Let's record the new arrangements with the band and have both a handy reference for us when next summer arrived, and a CD we could have available to the concertgoers to commemorate the event they'd just heard.”
And so was born Swing n’ Strings, a jazz album of material composed primarily from such iconic songwriters as Stephen Sondheim, Jule Styne, Victor Young, Ned Washington, Irving Berlin, Jimmy Van Heusen, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. The one departure from that repertoire is the inclusion of a swinging version of the Lennon/McCartney classic, “Things We Said Today,” which recalls the kind of treatment guitarist Wes Montgomery often did back in the ’60s/’70s jazzing up pop tunes of the era.
“We give ‘Things We Said Today’ a ‘Moondance’ groove with a swing bridge,” explains Basile, “and I found the original phrasing works fine over the different background. Soloing over the form makes it seem different from the Beatles song I grew up with. Fred slipping into ‘Secret Agent Man’ over Marty's ending groove was spontaneous so we left it in.”
For more information, visit www.albasile.com
Rhode Island Historical Society’s Concert — Swing n’ Strings with Al Basile
Date: Friday, July 24, 2014 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Ticket Price: $10 per person. Free for RIHS members and children under 12 years old
Venue: The John Brown House Museum, 52 Power Street, Providence, RI 02906
Phone: (401) 331-8575 x133