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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Showing posts with label Brad Hallen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brad Hallen. Show all posts

Monday, August 30, 2021

Sweetspot Records artist: Al Basile - B's Testimony - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, B's Testimony, from Al Basile and it's a real cool mix of blues and jazz. Opening with Lucky Man, a lightly funky, New Orleans flavored track with loose drum rhythm by Mark Teixeira, Brad Hallen on bass and Bruce Bears on piano. Adding in a bit of rock to the blues on If All It Took Was Wishing, Basile on cornet works with Doug James and Doc Chanonhouse to get just the right sound. Funky blues, I'm Bad That Way features some real tasty guitar work from Kid Andersen under some of Basile's best vocals on the release as well as a real nice laid back cornet solo that flows perfectly. Horn backing by James and Chanonhouse give it just the right amount of soul. Andersen steps up early on Up Close And Personal Best with some real hot riffs and follows with some absolute stinging solo guitar lead and Basile's muted cornet soloing lays in the slot making this one of my favorites on the release. Shuffle, I Oughta Be Your Monkey, is a lot of fun with just Basile front and center on cornet and lead vocal and a cool interface between Andersen's fine guitar work and the horns of James and Chanonhouse. Very nice. Another tight guitar solo by Andersen highlights It's Your Pain. Kid blends chickin pickin styling with bluesy approach, Basile's own laid back cornet solo laid in and the rich organ work of Bears tying it all together.  On Through Thick and Thin Andersen really gets loose on guitar and if you've never heard that, it's an absolute joy. The guy really can play and he's really inventive. He swings from riff to riff with wreckless abandon and blows the top off of this one. Excellent! Built around a similar musical theme as "A Thrill Is Gone" Would I Do That To You?, is a great R&B shaped blues number. Basile leads on vocal with horn response by James and Chanonhouse. This track is a real sweet showcase of his cornet work and again resolves with Andersen just slaying the guitar. His bends, mixed with his (what sounds like) whammy vibrato is off the hook. Soft horn backing by James and Chanonhouse really add warmth for a strong finish. Wrapping the release is He Said, She Said, a low slung blues number with a real nice piano display by Bears and solid vocals by Basile leading to another hot guitar solo by Andersen. Basile closes the show with a poised cornet solo line. Really cool release. 


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Couldn't find a video for the release but here's one anyway with Al and Kid:

 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Sweetspot Records artist: Al Basile - Last Hand - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Last Hand, from Al Basile, and it's a solid performance showcasing Basile's vocals with only 2 tracks where he contributes cornets work. Opening with It Ain't Broke, a cool, low slung club style blues with Basile on vocal, Bruce Bears on piano, Brad Hallen on bass and Mark Teixeira on drums. With a solid piano line, strong bass work and tight rhythm, a super opener. Smooth shuffle, Don't, has a strong melody and Basile's cornet work paired with bear's cool piano lines is strong. Bears and Basile lay nicely in the groove on After I'm Gone with it's excellent bottom and tight skins. The Problem is Me is one of my favorites on the release with strong piano work from Bears and Basile working the track like a pro. My favorite track on the release and release closer is Time Heals Nothing with it's somber overtone, and minimal backing support. Simple bass line, light brushes, straightforward piano and Basile... with a great muted cornet sound. Strong closer.


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Monday, November 4, 2019

Sweetspot Records artist: Al Basile - B's Hot House - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, B's Hot House, from Al Basile and it's a great mix of blues, R&B and soul. Opening with So Called Story Teller, a lumbering "Thrill Is Gone" like track with Basile on lead vocal and cornet, and featuring Duke Robillard with some mighty tasty guitar riffs. Backed by Mark Teixeira on drums, Brad Hallen on bass, Bruce Bears on keys, Doug James on sax and Doc Cannonhouse, this is a super opener. Shuffle track, Razor Wire has a great stride with Bears' "Booker T like" organ vibe and Robillard's riffs lead nicely into a cool cornet solo by Basile. Very nice. R&B track, Give Me That Look is one of my favorites with it's easy groove and sax/trumpet accent. Basile's vocals on this track are my favorite on the release as well with solid piano work giving it that polish. Another of my favorites on the release is What Dogs Wanna Do, with Robillard dialing his guitar into warm round sound over a Latin rhythm. Horn chorus behind the lead guitar sounds almost vocal like giving the track an almost gospel feel.  Very nice. Wrapping the release is Time Has Made A Fool Of Me, a bass reinforced shuffle with muted horns on the return. Basile's vocals guide the track and a loose, jazz style trumpet gives the track a cool feel. This is a solid release by Basile and another cool release outside of the guitar mainstream.


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Monday, June 24, 2019

Peter Poirier - Empty Arms - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Empty Arms, from Peter Poirier, and it's a solid does of R&B/blues. Opening with BB King's cool shuffle, Bad Luck, vocalist/lead guitar player takes the lead backed by a strong troupe of players including Brad Hallen (bass), Mark Teixeira (drums), Matt McCabe (piano) and Mark Earley (saxes). Sleepy John Estes' Someday Baby maintains much of it's original character  with maybe a little Muddy influence. Playing it fairly straight, Poirier's vocals are clean and his guitar lead tight. BB King's, I Wonder Why, is one of my favorite tracks on the release with a great swing. Earley lays in a real nice sax solo and Poirier's vocals and guitar work are really solid. With a Latin beat, BB Kings' And Like That is compact like BB wrote it with tight, essential guitar soloing and nice sax by Earley. Willie Dixon's I Cry For You has a super Chicago strut and Poirier's vocals are terrific. On Freddie King's,You Know That You Love Me, Poirier's guitar riffs are fluid and the piano work of McCabe's piano work is excellent. Wrapping the release is Freddie King's Heads Up with it's surf beat. Poirier works it hard against the tom tom work of Teixeira for a cool closing instrumental. 

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

JP Cadillac Records artist: The Knickerbocker All-Stars - Love Makes A Woman - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Love Makes A Woman, from the Knickerbocker All-Stars and it's rich. Opening with R&B track, So Soon, Darcel Wilson is upfront with powerful vocals, backed by the power horn section of Rich Lataille and Doug James on sax, Carl Querfurth on trombone, Doc Chanonhouse and Carl Gerhard on trumpet and the tight rhythm section of Mark Teixeira on drums, Brad Hallen on bass, Kevin Barry on guitar and David Limina on keys. Excellent opener. Thornetta Davis really swings boogie track, Good Rockin' Daddy with excellent backing vocals and stellar piano work by Limina a sweet sax solo and tight guitar lead by Barry. Definitely one of my favorites on the release. Wilson takes Joe Seneca's Talk To Me, Talk To Me by the short hairs and really spins it. With a perfect touch of trumpet by Chanonhouse, the warm sax work of James and Lataille and fluid jazzy guitar work of Barry, this is a definite star. Go Girl! is an excellent instrumental jam with hot solos throughout by James and Lataille...wow! james Brown's Don't Cry Baby has a great groove with a nice walking bass line by Hallen, laid back guitar lead by Barry, rich sax heat and lead vocals by Davis. Very nice. Wrapping the release is a strong cover of Aretha's Since You've Been Gone by Wilson. This is a solid release with super tunes and a powerful lot of talent .. and did I mention that all proceeds go to United Theater/Knickerbocker Music Center and their joint educational program with the Rhode Island Philharmonic. Very nice!

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Sweetspot Records artist: Al Basile - Me & the Originator - Al Basile - New Release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Me & the Originator, from Al Basile and it's a cool mix of poetry, story telling and super music. Opening with the initial story line, Basile sets the stage for the release in story telling fashion. Continuing the story but through song, Basile on vocal and cornet, leads the way, backed by Brad Hallen on bass, Mark Teixeira on tom tom, Bruce Bears on keys and Duke Robillard on guitar. My J-O-B is a cool shuffle track with some of the best vocals on the release. Robillard's riffs are tight with a swing feel and Basile's own cornet work paired with the trumpet work of Jeff Chanonhouse is always cool. One of my favorite tracks on the release is She Made Me Believe It, a slower blues number with soulful vocals, brass and organ backing and super guitar soloing by Robillard. Excellent! Here Come Your Trouble is another cool shuffle tune with a solid bop cornet solo from Basile and excellent piano work from Bears. R&B style blues track, First One To Go, has a real nice guitar solo by Robillard and stylistic cornet work by Basile over solid bass work of Hallen. Very nice. Wrapping the release is If It Goes It Goes/How It Goes, a bluesy jazz number with a great walking bass line and grinding guitar riffs by Robillard. Hallen's bass line, Bears' bright key work and Chanonhouse's trumpet backing roll the release into Basile's closure on his story. This is an interesting release with some really cool music.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Multi Blues Music Award Nominee Al Basile Brings His Songs and Stories to Life on New CD, "Me & the Originator," Out June 15 on Sweetspot Records


Multi Blues Music Award Nominee Al Basile Brings His Songs and Stories to Life on New CD, Me & the Originator, Out June 15 on Sweetspot Records



RUMFORD, RI – Multi Blues Music Award nominee Al Basile brings his original songs and stories to life on the new CD, Me & the Originator, releasing June 15 on Sweetspot Records. Produced by Duke Robillard, who also adds his guitar talents on the new disc, Me & the Originator showcases Al’s abilities as a storyteller in poems and songs, and as a vocalist and cornet player, backed by an additional group of New England-based all-star musicians, including Mark Texeira (drums), Brad Hallen (bass), Bruce Bears (keyboards), Doug James (tenor and baritone sax) and Jeff “Doc” Chanonhouse (trumpet).



Al Basile, who is also a prize-winning poet, will celebrate the release of the new CD by performing Me & the Originator as a one-man show at the West Chester Poetry Conference, West Chester, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, June 9, from 3:30-4:45 pm.



“For the 20th anniversary of my Sweetspot label, I wanted to do something different,” Basile says about the new project. “Inspired by the running narrative between the songs on Louis Armstrong: My Musical Biography, I decided to tell a story about an imaginary musician who found lyrics, set music to them, but never admitted he didn't write the words after he got famous. It's a story about blues songs – how they came to be, and who can claim them as theirs, that speaks to the history of the music as we've inherited it. The story is told by the narration and the songs working together.



“Many people know me as a musician, and many others as a poet. I wanted to create a project that required both of my creative hats at once. I don't know how often people have told a story using poems and songs which work together this way, but it's something that I'm especially equipped to do. It fits in the category of a blues album, but it's something different, something more.”



Basile’s last album, Quiet Money (2017), continued to build on his legacy as the “bard of the blues,” combining superb blues and roots music within the framework of intelligent and insightful lyrics, garnering him yet another Blues Music Award nomination for his horn playing. He also received a 2016 Best Contemporary Blues Album nomination for Mid-Century Modern.



“I had told the story of this character in poetic form in my first book A Lit House,” Basile offers. “Those interested in what happened eventually to him can find out by reading ‘Leaving Trunk’ in that book. I decided to write a dozen new songs, and have the character comment in poems about how the songs came to be written, and how they related to his own life. I planned to read the poems in the voice of the character, and have Duke Robillard play solo guitar lead-ins for each one (he came up with spectacular introductions, as you'll hear).



“The circumstances under which the disc was recorded were unusual. I had written the songs and the poems which tell the story very early on for me – it was all written by May of 2017. I spent the summer recording demos and making arrangements, and was finished by September. We were scheduled to record in January. I fell ill in October, and was very limited in what I could do physically going into the winter – but I'd finished the work early so I was lucky. I made being able to run the session, sing and play the goal of my recovery, and was able to hold up my end when the time came. Of course Duke and the guys helped me out tremendously.”



Arranged in a lavish multi-panel CD booklet that includes all the lyrics to the songs, as well as the stories behind them, Me & the Originator is an exciting and nourishing reading/listening experience.    



“Because I'd finished the writing so early, I decided to try a different approach to recording,” Basile adds about the studio work. “Usually we track the songs in an order that makes sense for the way the day is unfolding rather than in any particular order. The sequence is determined later in the project, when we're done with the mixes. This time, I gave the guys advance notice of the narration (even though they wouldn't be playing on those tracks) so they would understand the story and how the songs fit in. I'd already decided the sequence while writing the narrative and the songs – planning grooves and keys to lead the listener through the story of the narrator's life. Then we actually recorded the songs in sequence – that way the guys could attend to details knowing exactly what the listener would have heard in the preceding song, and what the next one would be like. This involved the players on a new level, and I think it shows in the flow of the album – there's a natural inevitability that leads you through the story.”

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sweetspot Records artist: Al Basile - Quiet Money - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Quiet Money, from Al Basile and it has great body!  Basile, hot cornet player and legendary first trumpet with Roomful of Blues is back with Duke Robillard on guitar, Mark Teixeira on drums, Brad Hallen on bass, Bruce Bears on piano, Doc Chanonhouse on trumpet, Rich Lataille on tenor sax and Doug James on tenor and bari saxes. Opening with Blues Got Blues, Basile and Robillard lead the way with balanced lead lines making for a solid opener. On Simple Ain't Easy, Robillard lays out some really tasty lead work under Basile's vocals giving it great feel. Basile steps up with muted cornet and plays off the tempo for super accent. On title track, Quiet Money, James has the bari out and the heft really sets the track. With an easy swing, Basile's vocals ride the groove on this laid back number. Put Some Salt On It, a prime 12 bar number, Basile lays in a real nice cornet lead, complimenting his vocals and Robillard's guitar work is stinging. Jump track, The Time Is Now, has a snappy pace and loose, flamboyant guitar riffs by Robiolard, and well punctuated cornet lead by Basile.  Swing track, I Woulda Been Wrong is one of my favorites on the release with signature guitar riffs by Robillard and some of Basile's best vocals on the release. Robillard really digs deep and lays out some of the most expressive riffs on Not Today.  James really steps up with a fat sax solo on True To Form paired nicely with solos by Robillard and Basile. Wrapping the release is ballad, Who's Gonna Close My Eyes? Featuring the vocals of Basile deep bari work by James, Bears piano finesse and a melodic solo by Basile, this is a solid closer to a solid release.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Sweetspot Records artist: Al Basile - Mid-Century Modern - New release review

I just had the opportunity to review the newest release, Mid-Century Modern, from Al Basile and he's spot on. Sporting a who's who of musicians, Basile mixes blues, funk, rock and jazz for a real Mid-Century experience. Opening with Keep Your Love, Where's My Money, a slick new Orleans style track with a cool back beat, Basile and his crew, Rich Lataille, Duke Robillard, Bruce Bears, Doug James, Monster Mike Welch, Mark Teixeira and Brad Hallen set the club scene nicely. Basile sets a real nice table on cornet, complimenting his vocals and super stylized piano by Bears makes this track sing. Funky, Like You or Despise You, has a cool trumpet vamp by Jeff "Doc" Channonhouse and over a nice bass line by Hallen, Basile lays out a really cool cornet riff and Monster Mike's guitar work is slick. On Midnight Blue Persuasion, a straight R&B groove, Basile presents some of the top vocals on the release. This track has a real nice feel, like R&B from the 60's with his own cornet work on showcase. Tickle My Mule is a clever track with innuendo and I really like Monster Mike's guitar work on this track. Excellent! Really getting into the Louis Jordan swing thing , I've Gotta Have Meat, is  great track and the band is really cooking. Rich Lataille and Doug James really shine on this track with hot sax work. Funky, Like A Woman, , Like A Man features Duke Robillard screaming hot on guitar with Albert King like riffs. I love King and this track is hot! Blank Dog has a really nice groove with saxes a blazing and snappy drum work by Mark Teixeira. Nice trumpet work by Doc and excellent guitar riffs compliment Basile's soulful cornet work making this another super track. Shuffle track, Carry These Blues has great warmth and sports great vocals and cornet work by Basile, nice trumpet work by Doc, essential piano backing and some real nice guitar riffs by Welch. Swampy, No Truth To The Rumor, rides heavy on the back of Hallen, with Bears laying in some terrific piano lines and Basile's cornet hot spots. On light shuffle, Listen To The Elders,  Basile goes down more of a big band path with trumpet and sax work taking a stronger spot. James' work on bari sax is really hot and I always love Bruce Bears work on everything he does. Basile has a real nice hand with his cornet laying in just the right amount of seasoning. Soul track, Night Crossing, has strong radio bones with a funky bottom compliments of Hallen. Big Trees Falling is really nice and funky and Hallen is setting the pace. With Doc hitting the trumpet on rhythm, Basile steps up on cornet taking lead. Welch rips some really fat riffs over Bears clever piano riffs giving the track some really traction. Wrapping the release is Lie Under The House with Me, a quiet jazz track with an almost Miles feel. Basile takes some of his best horn rides on this track and Robillard sets up for a slam of his own on this one with nicely articulated guitar work. Calm and soulful, a nice closer for a different taste of blues.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sweetspot Records artist: Al Basile - B's Expression - New release review

I just received the newest release, B's Expression, from Al Basile and it has a nice groove. Opening with Whole Lot of Good Good Lovin', a smooth blues with a laid back cornet and vocal lead from Basile and Duke Robillard setting on a real nice guitar lead. Mark Teixeira on drums, Bruce bears on keys and Brad Hallen on bass hold down the bottom. On swinging, It Wasn't That Good, Bears on keys, Doug James on sax and Carl Querfurth form a warm bed for Basile's vocals. Bears takes a melodic key solo and Robillard lays down a sporty jazz/rock solo of his own. R&B based, Not Like I Do, has a cool bass line from Hallen. With a bit of a funky hitch, Basile steps up with a really nice cornet solo. Very cool. Hi steppin, Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Being Right really rides on the solid trombone work of Querfurth. Soulful vocals from Basile are tops and Bears lays out a nice piano solo. Basile sets in a short cornet solo of his own but this track is really about the vocals. Funky, I'm Runnin' Late, has a great bass line from Hallen and James and Querfurth pump up the middle. I really like Basile's cornet attack/soloing on this track. Very nice! Have I Given My Best has an earth spiritual feel (Will The Circle Be Unbroken) with a soulful twist. Some of Basile's nicest vocals on the release, this track is an easy airplay. Another hi stepper, Never Good Enough, has a distinct Al Green feel. Querfurth and James really do a nice job of punctuating this track throughout and Robillard adds some cleverly placed blues riffs of his own. I particularly like his guitar solo on this track nicely blending the funky R&B feel with definite blues riffs. Excellent! Somethin's Missing has an easy funky jazz feel again nicely punctuated by the horn section. Setting itself up nicely for Basile on cornet, he takes front and center laying down a nicely articulated solo. An easy sway led by Querfurth and James opens Answer Me, with it's Fagen like vocals. Robillard again nicely fuses hot blues riffs into this fusion track and Basile has great tone delivering solo lines of his own. Very nice! Funky, I Didn't Come Here To Lie, has a hot bass line by Hallen and solid horn lines keeping the track grounded. Basile's cornet work is so casual and sweet it fits perfectly. Ballad, Even Jesus Fell, has a soulful feel with a swing. Based mostly on horn base and nicely executed key work from Bears, it's a nice showcase for Basile on vocal and nice melodic guitar soloing by Robillard. Super R&B track, That Ain't Bad, has a nice weave of funky bass, horns and stinging guitar. Basile knows how deliver the goods vocally on this best of show and his cornet work is tight. Sweet! Wrapping the release is You Know - You Don't Know is opened by jazzy riffs by Hallen on upright bass. A quiet soothing track with carefully dabbed brushstrokes of cornet, piano, trombone, sax and guitar make this a masterful conclusion.


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Friday, December 19, 2014

Robin Banks - Modern Classic - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Modern Classic, from Robin Banks and it has an appeal all it's own. I've listened to this a number of times now and it has a clearness and clarity that is rarely heard in today's music. Opening with A Man Is Just A Man, Banks demonstrates the clarity of her voice and also her intentions of making a album of music that came out of a '57 Chevy. It has that kind of simple human quality. Superhero is a easy bop with really nice guitar work from Duke Robillard. Again the sound is early sixties pop. I Really Dig You goes back even a bit further to possibly Dinah Washington and that early pop jazz sound. Bruce Bears on keys and Robillard spice up the track with clarity and swing and Mark Early lays out a real nice sax solo as well. Crazy has some really cool guitar effects and Doug James really lays in some nice Bari sax. Mark Teixeira keeps the rhythm tight giving it a nice sparkle and again Early steps up and kicks it! My Baby Loves Me has a real nice easy swing and Doug Woolverton hits the muted trumpet. The bluesiest track on the release is also my favorite and possibly the best demonstration of Banks vocal style. Robillard lays down some really nicely articulated guitar solos and Doug James bottom supplied sax is tops. A Little Bit Of Heaven has a Latin feel with Teixeira coaxing pure rhythm out of the track. Bruce Bears riffs sound like they were born in Cuba and Banks is spot on vocally. Robillard lays in a light fingered Latin guitar solo and Brad Hallen takes on the lead instrumentally with Bears as the track steps up to full swing. I'll Meet You There has an Al Green R&B feel but with more southern soul vocals. Early again steps up with a hot sax solo and Banks vocal duet and Woolverton on trumpet gives it that Memphis sound. Bears opens Tonight with spy piano riffs and Banks gets into that pop jazz swing. Bears and Robillard trade instrumental lead on this track and even Hallen and Teixeira get into the action. Cool! Bite Your Tongue has that good southern funky soul with horn punctuation. Bears takes a hot organ solo and Robillard throws down as well. A sassier vocal style on this track really lends itself nicely to the styling. On boogie track, You Boogie Too Fast For Me, Bears and Hallen give the boogie a ride. A slick piano interlude by Bears adds significantly to the overall feel. Ballad, A Place In The City, finds Bears delivering a gospel or Robbins if you will, piano style giving the track a country sound. Robillard lays down some double stop guitar work that even more enforces the overall country sound. Wrapping the release is Some Day Soon, another pop jazz track with Banks swinging out. Bears is light and bright on the keys and Teixeira on brushes allows the warmth of Hallen to come through having the feel of a true jazz trio (quartet with vocal). This is a different kind oof blues for a lighter listen but I believe that there is a strong audience out there for exactly this.

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”