Swing n’ Strings
Sweetspot Records 2014
Review by David Bowling
Al Basile took a long journey before the release of Swing n’ Strings. The Rhode island Historical Society invited him to perform at their summer concert series in 2013. He had released a jazz album in 2003 titled Red Breath and decided to return to that style for the concert. After several months of rehearsals, the concert was canceled due to bad weather. Not all was lost however as the songs eventually made it onto his new album.
Vocalist/cornet player Basile was an original member of Roomful of Blues, 1973-1975 and has been working with The Duke Robillard Band since 1990 in addition to his solo work. His last release, Woke Up In Memphis, was a combination of soul, blues, and Americana and very different from his latest release.
He draws on many classic jazz tunes. He and producer Robillard use a basic quartet, with a second guitarist present on three tracks. Cornetist/vocalist Basile, guitarist Fred Bates, sax player Rich Lataille, bassist Marty Ballou, and occasional second guitarist Bob Zuck form an interesting and creative unit.
Basile is a laid back vocalist but as a cornet player is able to create a wonderful and pure sound and it brings life to many of the old jazz songs. From a rousing version of Irving Berlin’s “Heat Wave” to the gentle “Oh, You Crazy Moon,” to the textures of “A Kiss To Build A Dream On” and “This Nearly Was Mine;” it is an exploration of the mellow side of jazz.
The only exception to his song choices is an imaginative and swinging rendition of the Lennon/McCartney tune “Things We Said Today.”
Al Basile has issued a solid album of light jazz. Whether he will explore jazz more in the future is unknown but Swing ‘n Strings is a nice stop in his career path.