Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Al Basile -- "At Home Next Door"

Al Basile is having a great year in 2012. After spending 40+ years as a poet, playwright, and fiction writer, his career retrospective of poetry "A Lit House" was published this year, and now he has also released his ninth solo CD "At Home Next Door." Produced by Duke Robillard, this 2 cd set includes one disc which is a retrospective of his 14 year tenure on his own record label, Sweetspot Records--along with a second disc which is a collection of new songs in a 60s Memphis style.

Both discs feature Duke Robillard on guitar, and Al Basile singing and playing cornet. The look back is disc one, and it includes songs from 1998 to the present. Featured in addition to Basile and Duke are Bruce Katz on keyboards on seven tracks, Matt McCabe on piano on two tracks, Jerry Portnoy on harmonica on two tracks, Sugar Ray Norcia on harmonica on one track, and Marty Ballou and John Packer on bass along with many alumni members of Roomful of Blues. It is a terrific look back at Basile's wide-ranging talent as a writer and a singer and a horn player--lifted out of their original releases these thirteen songs shine with a new luster. There is also an acoustic blues duet with Al and Duke Robillard on "80 Bells," which is kind of like having these guys singing and playing in your living room. Very nice.

The second disc is the new material, and it features Al Basile and the Duke Robillard Band playing in a 60s Memphis R&B Stax-Volt vibe, with the addition of great jazz tenor sax player Scott Hamilton on three tracks. And let me tell you, this disc is primo stuff! Track after track, I am swept away by a horn riff, a vocal phrase or the keyboard or the guitar, the horns and or the drum--and next thing I know I've gotta go back and listen to that again. 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. 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. I still remember "Too Much Like Fate" and "Stony Ground" hours after hearing them. "It Is What It Is" gets a big boost from Hamilton. But the best song on this IMO is "A Mystery To Me." Just terrific--a candidate for Bruce's song of the year.

You can buy this cd at http://www./albasile.com

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