Friday, August 19, 2016
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: AL BASILE - MID-CENTURY MODERN
Basile reunites with his Roomful of Blues colleague from the 70s, producer Duke Robillard, on a set that features the big horn swing and jump blues they know how to do so well. Basile's a rare bird, a band leader whose instrument is the cornet, and it's such a kick to hear this dynamic, strutting and classic horn take so many solos. It just immediately connects the music back to its century-old roots.
Smartly though, Basile doesn't take too many leads, lest we tire of the novelty. Instead, we get full horn arrangements, featuring another ex-Roomful player, the always mighty Doug James, and Rich Lataille, still helping keep Roomfull alive, on sax. There's some great piano work from Bruce Bears, and lots of guitar, including a couple of guest solos from Robillard. But it's really the great grooves here that make it all special. Listen To The Elders feels like WW II big band, with a clockwork rhythm. Keep Your Love, Where's My Money? is New Orleans, and Big Trees Falling has that unstoppable B.B. King power.
The sounds are diverse throughout, which is a real tribute to Basile's range as a writer. The middle years of the 20th century were a rich time for the blues, and Basile and the players are some of the very best at taking those influences and coming up with new and vibrant material. Forty years on, the Roomful of Blues concept is still bearing fruit.