Woke Up In Memphis

Al Basile

Sweetspot Records 2014

Review by David Bowling

Al Basile is just about to release his tenth solo album titled Woke Up In Memphis. The former member of Roomful Of Blues has done it his way as his own Sunspot label has now celebrated 15 years of existence. He has always been a friend of blues guitarist Duke Robillard who has produced his latest release. If Robillard is going to be in the studio, he might as well contribute his guitar skills, which are some of the best in the business.

In addition to Robillard; he has gathered a talented band to back him in the studio. Current Roomful Of Blues sax player Rich Lataille, former member and baritone sax player Doug James, drummer Mark Teixeira, keyboardist Bruce Bears, and bassist Brad Hallen all support Basil’s vocals and cornet. They add up to an excellent aggregation.

Basile has always been a first-rate song writer and all tracks bear his signature. His lyrics are personal, incisive, and always interesting. The music has layers of textures and his use of horns provide a defining emphasis.

His new album, while grounded in the blues, travels in a number of directions as it incorporates elements of rock, jazz, and gospel. Guest vocalist Sista Monica Parker propels “Make A Little Heaven” into a gospel fused extravaganza. Add in “Saved By The Blues,” “Don’t Make Me Beg,” “One More Stone In The Pitcher,” and “Big Like Elvis,” and you have a nice selection of very listenable songs.

Al Basile has a lot of years and miles under his belt. Woke Up In Memphis is a fine addition to his legacy.

Rating: ***