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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 Sweetspot Records. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sweetspot Records. 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:

 

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, 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.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Multi-Blues Music Award Nominee Al Basile Makes a Loud Statement on New CD, "Quiet Money," Coming September 15 from Sweetspot Records



Multi-Blues Music Award Nominee Al Basile Makes a Loud Statement on New CD,
Quiet Money, Coming September 15 from
Sweetspot Records


RUMFORD, RI – Sweetspot Records announces a September 15 release date for Quiet Money, the new CD from multiple Blues Music Award nominee Al Basile. Quiet Money was produced by Duke Robillard, recorded by Jack Gauthier at Lakewest Recording Studio in West Greenwich, Rhode Island, and features a baker’s-dozen 13 songs, all penned by Al Basile.

It’s been 44 years since Al Basile joined Rhode Island’s legendary jump blues band Roomful of Blues as its first trumpet player, and while his last few solo releases have moved closer musically to the styles Roomful played in: jump blues, urban and Texas blues, swing, and classic R&B, Quiet Money draws directly from that template. Its songs were inspired musically by Buddy Johnson, Lowell Fulson, Jimmy McCracklin, Saunders King, Charlie Rich, and even the Coasters and the Pilgrim Travelers, but as always Al marries the music to his own personal storytelling lyrics, creating songs that are musically familiar to original Roomful fans, but range in theme from the current state of blues in the music business (“Blues Got Blues”) to classic double-entendre blues (“Put Some Salt on It”) to several songs on taking stock near the end of life (“Not Today,” “Who’s Gonna Close My Eyes?”), and in the title song, wondering why money seems to leave the many and hang out with the few (a song influenced by the hipster ‘50s vibe of the Coasters’ classic, “Shopping for Clothes”).

Having his old Roomful boss, perennial producer, and guitar wizard Duke Robillard on board, along with original Roomful alums Rich Lataille and Doug James in the horn section, ensures that the sonic fingerprints will match up for older fans of that band. The rhythm section from the current Duke Robillard Band: Mark Teixeira on drums; Brad Hallen on bass (with the addition of Bruce Bears on piano and Jeff “Doc” Chanonhouse on trumpet) has provided the underpinning for most of Al’s albums over the last ten years, and they continue to nail every style Al asks them to.

“After a few recent songs based on classic R&B models like Louis Jordan, I went into full nostalgia mode for my old Roomful of Blues days when I wrote this group of new songs,” Basile says about the sessions. “We used to listen to all the flavors of ‘40s and ‘50s R&B, and every kind of blues and jazz, especially from swing to bop, in that band, and our set lists reflected that. I decided to write in that spirit musically, but with my modern lyrical bent as usual, and here’s the result. Of course having Duke, Doug, and Rich along didn’t hurt!”

Al’s unusual combination of singer/songwriter/cornetist continues to come to the fore. In 2016, he was nominated for the 6th time as best horn player by the Blues Foundation, and his 2016 album, Mid-Century Modern, was nominated as best contemporary blues album. His even-more-rare combination of musician and prize-winning poet was underscored by the recent publication of his second poetry book, Tonesmith, by Antrim House.

Al's reviews consistently comment on his strengths as a writer. He uses his lyrics to tell stories with universal appeal, bringing to the task his poet's skills but keeping the words strong, simple, and evocative. There is often a teaching or sharing-of-lessons-learned element in his lyrics. His ease and strength as a singer continues to grow with each release, and his cornet playing is rich, nuanced, and succinct, informed by jazz but instantly communicative as an alternate voice. His songs are all lyrically and melodically deep, and the characters and situations are like compressed theater.


Al is often referred to as the “Bard of the Blues” – he's a rare combination of formal poet and singer/songwriter. He's a model for his generation in showing how to have sequential careers, remain independent, and produce work that is both accessible and thought-provoking. His music sounds good – you can put it on while making dinner – but if you have time for a careful listen – the deeper you look, the more you'll find.

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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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Al Basile Creates New Roots Music Masterpiece with "B's Expression," Due September 18 on Sweetspot Records




Al Basile Creates New Roots Music Masterpiece with B’s Expression, Due September 18 on Sweetspot Records

Latest Release Is Most-Fully Realized Album Yet

RUMFORD, RI – Singer/songwriter/cornetist Al Basile announces a September 18 release date for B’s Expression, the new CD from the “Bard of the Blues,” distributed nationally by City Hall Records. Produced by long-time friend Duke Robillard and recorded at Lakewest Recording Studio in West Greenwich, Rhode Island, B’s Expression features 13 all-original Al Basile songs, backed by a simpatico band that includes Duke Robillard – guitars; Mark Teixeira – drums; Bruce Bears – keyboards; Brad Hallen – bass; Doug James – tenor and baritone sax; and Carl Querfurth – trombone.

An original member of the seminal roots music group, Roomful of Blues, Al Basile is a multiple Blues Music Award nominee. He’s written songs for and/or appeared on over 10 Duke Robillard albums, including the Grammy nominated Guitar Groove-a-Rama and Stomp! The Blues Tonight. His songs have also been recorded by such other blues giants as Ruth Brown and Johnny Rawls. 

Following up the critical success of Basile’s last CD, Woke Up in Memphis (2014), the tracks on B’s Expression are firmly rooted in the blues and soul styles of the Memphis sound epitomized by Stax and Hi Records, while offering up a palette of songs that showcase his unique ability as a wordsmith. A widely published poet as well as songwriter, Basile has a way with words not normally heard in roots music. A testament to his scholarly credits, at one point last winter he had work in five different poetry magazines, simultaneously. He’s also given talks on songwriting and metric poetry writing at Boston University's Editorial Institute and the West Chester Poetry Conference.
  
“It’s pertinent to my branching out as a writer,” says Basile, “that aside from getting a song on Johnny Rawls’ last CD, I’ve been writing custom songs for New Jump Blues, a West Coast band that advertises itself as jump blues and calypso, and has three singers, one of whom is actor Antonio Fargas (“Huggy Bear” from the classic Starsky and Hutch TV show in the 1970s and a bunch of “Blaxploitation” films in the ‘70s/’80s). They put out a CD a year ago and followed it up by playing the Playboy Jazz Festival. Recently, they shot a video of a song I wrote for them for COZI-TV, an NBC affiliated network that shows vintage ‘60s-‘80s television fare. The stuff I write for that band is in classic R&B style, but it’s tailored to the three singers, who assume characters and do a kind of stage show where they sing and dance. Writing for them is a lot like writing for musical theater, which I started doing way back when I wrote musicals at Brown University, except in an R&B style.”

During the songwriting phase of B’s Expression, Basile also did something he hasn’t done before on any of his solo recordings. “While I was writing these songs, I also came up with the arrangements for each of them that I wanted to follow once we got in the studio,” he stresses. “In the past, I’d write the songs and take them into the studio and work out the arrangements with all the musicians who played on the sessions. The result is that this new CD is my most fully- realized album yet.”

While all of the songs on B’s Expression have a story behind their creation, it’s worth pointing out instances for Basile’s inspiration of several of them as listed in the liner notes:

“Answer Me” - “‘Silence is the unbearable repartee’ is variously attributed to Chesterton, Dickens, and Alexander Theroux. Whoever said it first, this song is an attempt to bear the silence of others by giving a little context to a plea for a response. Sometimes it feels like no one is ever going to answer!”

“Don't You Ever Get Tired of Being Right?” – “I wrote this with the jump blues style of Louis Jordan in mind and then changed the groove for this version. The lyric still sports his brand of humor, I think – blues humor can take all kinds of stylistic changes on the musical side (see any Johnny “Guitar” Watson remake, for example).”

“I Didn’t Come Here to Lie” – “Some straight talk to a friend who needs to hear it – but stopping short of judgement. There is always something we can't know about another, no matter how much we do know. We sure like to draw conclusions, though – with or without sufficient evidence.”

“It Wasn’t That Good” – “You could say this was inspired by James Brown's After You Done It. Sometimes songs really do inspire other songs. But sometimes even someone you’ve chased for a long time turns out to be what Gertrude Stein said about Cleveland. Romantically speaking, of course.”

“Somethin’s Missing” – “This is my take on the Ellington It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) theme. Swing is a groove, the first one I ever really loved. But there are others that have come along since, and if you don't have one – you better have another. Can’t even make coffee without one.”

“Whole Lot of Good Good Lovin’” – “No, it's not Good Lovin’ and it's not Whole Lotta Love. It’s not even Fats’ Whole Lotta Lovin’ or JB's Good Good Lovin’. But there’s been bragging in blues since forever, and if the shoe fits....”

“You Know – You Don't Know” – “The idea for this started back in the Roomful of Blues days; when we first worked with Cleanhead Vinson, he looked at us thoughtfully one day and murmured, ‘You know...you don't know. You know...you don't know.’ Exactly what he meant is anybody’s guess, but I took the phrase and applied it to the dramatic situation that's described in the lyric. This is an example of a song allowing someone to say something he couldn’t otherwise put into words.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Al Basile Sets July 15 Release Date for New Jazz CD, "Swing n' Strings," on Sweetspot Records, Produced by Duke Robillard


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

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sweetspot Records artist: Al Basile - Woke Up In Memphis - New Release review

I just received the newest release (May 20, 2014), Woke Up In Memphis, from Al Basile and it's a giant bowl of R&B and soul. Opening with Yesterday You Left, a poppy R&B track with solid sax contributions from Rich Lataille and Doug James and cornet and vocals from Basile. Duke Robillard plays a plucky solo on this track supported by Bruce Bears on organ, Mark Teixeira on drums and Brad Hallen on bass. Don't Make Me Beg has a super feel with Basile really getting in the groove vocally. A loose and airy cornet solo followed by a tight guitar riff from Robilard tops this track. When Things Get Tough is a straight up R&B pop track. One More Stone In The Pitcher has a really nice feel along the lines of Al Green with warm vocals and well balanced horns and keys. Bears takes a real nice organ solo on this track also letting the door open for Basile to follow with a really melodic solo of his own on cornet. Title track, I Woke Up In Memphis, is a quick paced almost spiritual track also featuring Robillard playing some finger picked guitar and punctuation from Basile on cornet. Jimmy & Johnny has a traditional Memphis ballad sound and a catchy melody. I particularly like the rich guitar work of Robillard on this track. Saved By The Blues has a great strut with horns pushing the way. Basile's vocals are well integrated and soulful. Both Robillard and Basile lay down some nice solos on this track. Nibblin' Through The Fence is a nice easy ballad with tasty little riffs by each player. Make A Little Heaven features Sista Monica Parker on vocals and classic Memphis horn work making this a nice pop R&B track. Too Tough has a really distinctive swing and Basile really capitalizes on it both vocally and instrumentally. Possibly my favorite track on the release, Robillard really steps it up with a great bluesy guitar solo over bears on organ and Basile also does some of his strongest cornet work on this track as well. Nicely done. You Choose Me is another stand out track with a strong strut. Basile's vocal strength is supported by solid horn work by his own cornet work and of course the work of James and Lataille. Drummers never get the pats they deserve but Teixeira really keeps a tight ship on this release. The release is wrapped by Masked Man, a funky R&B track allowing some of the most effective soloing by Basile on the release. Robillard also hits a nice groove on this track of course supported by Bears, Teixeira, Hallen, James and Lataille. This is a cool release capitalizing on the R&B styling from Memphis and I think that he does a nice job of pulling in cool blues, jazz and rock influences for a unique package.  

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”

  This video is not from the current release but representative of Basile's work.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Al Basile Delivers a Jolt of Bluff City Soul on His New CD, "Woke Up in Memphis," Coming May 20 on Sweetspot Records


Al Basile Delivers a Jolt of Bluff City Soul on His New CD, Woke Up in Memphis,
Coming May 20 on Sweetspot Records

Latest Disc by Former Roomful of Blues Alumnus Features Special Guests Duke Robillard, Rich Lataille, Doug James and Sista Monica Parker



RUMFORD, RI – Al Basile announces a May 20 release date for Woke Up in Memphis, the new CD from the singer/songwriter/cornetist and former member of Roomful of Blues, on Sweetspot Records, with distributtion by City Hall Records. Produced by Basile’s lifelong friend and musical collaborator Duke Robillard, who adds his trademark guitar sounds throughout, Woke Up in Memphis is also fueled by a dynamite horn section that includes Basile, current Roomful tenor sax player Rich Lataille and former member Doug James on baritone sax, along with Mark Teixeira on drums and percussion, Bruce Bears on keyboards, Brad Hallen on electric bass and special guest vocalist Sista Monica Parker.

Acclaimed not only for his sweet cornet playing, but also his literate blues songwriting, Al Basile lays down a groove of 14 originals on the new CD that sound as if they’d be right at home on a Stax or Hi Records session in the 1960s, but with a contemporary feel that makes them vital. With song titles such as “Don't Make Me Beg,” “When Things Get Tough (the Tough Get Things),” “Saved by the Blues,” “Too Tough,” “Big Like Elvis” and the title track, fans of roots music will feel like they “Woke Up in Memphis” from the moment the first sounds emanate out of the speakers.

Celebrating 15 years on his own Sweetspot label, Woke Up in Memphis is Al Basile's tenth solo CD, collecting 14 of his new songs inspired by classic ‘60s Memphis musical styles: soul, R&B, and gospel. The new album builds on the success of his last recording, At Home Next Door, which reached the number 12 spot on the Living Blues airplay chart and earned Al his third Blues Music Award nomination. It mixes secular lyrics with the first of Al's gospel songs to appear on one of his releases, a duet with Sista Monica Parker on the powerful “Make a Little Heaven.”

At Home Next Door drew universal kudos for its inspired mix of blues, soul, and R&B sounds. “Al is a complete master of music, of many genres,” said Blues Underground Network, “but I am telling you right now, that I really enjoyed the wonderful potpourri of musical styles … Al has exactly what it takes to capture your attention, regardless of what musical genres you prefer.”

“Basile is a great songwriter with a great musical feel for presenting a song, and he is backed by a terrific band that has played with him for nearly 25 years,” wrote Sunday Night Blues Project in its review. “I think this is the best music Basile has made so far in his career--his ease and strength as a vocal storyteller continues to grow with each release, and his cornet playing is rich, nuanced, and succinct.”

“Al Basile has raised his profile considerably over the past few years. His past four discs have charted in the Top 15 on the Living Blues airplay charts and he’s been nominated for multiple BMA’s as Best Horn Player. This retrospective/new release should raise his profile even more, showcasing his versatility as a songwriter, singer, and musician.” -  Bluesbytes

“I haven't heard the phrase ‘blue-eyed soul’ in a while, but I suppose it applies here. A consummate professional, Basile does what he does with feeling and intelligence, and he makes you want to come back for more.” - Rambles.net


For more information, visit www.albasile.com.