Within the pantheon of recognized stars of the contemporary roadhouse blues, there is one and only one cornet horn player that comes to mind. His name is Al Basile and he hails from Rhode Island. Al got his start with Roomful of Blues back in the seventies, played with Duke Robillard in the 80’s, and went out on his own in the nineties. He sings in a classic jazzy blues style and often writes songs in an introspective style observing himself and the world around him and the man can play that cornet!!
Besides being a singer, musician and performer, Al is also a published poet with three released books of poetry to his credit. AND, what I have always found most intriguing about Al is that up until 2005 he balanced a blues career with teaching high school!! Bluesman by night and teacher of English, music, and physics during the day. He had to have been the coolest teacher on campus!! On his latest recording released on August 19th of this year, Through with Cool, Al foreswears cool on the title track but I don’t buy it. One does not give up being cool on your own; I find it to be the observation of others about you (like a nickname) and Al, to put it in roadhouse blues vernacular, is still pretty badass.
For the Through With Cool recording, Al invites along several friends and musicians that have played with him on other recordings. Kid Andersen does a fabulous job on guitars, Mark Teixeira beats out the rhythm on drums, Brad Hallen is on bass, Bruce Bears plays the ivories, Jeff “Doc” Chanonhouse is on trumpet, and a horn player I really like by the name of Doug James is on saxophone and clarinet. They produce a very tight laid back blues sound that is the very definition of jazzy blues cool!
There are 14 tracks on the new recording, these are my favorite three:
- Uh Huh is a catchy tune that showcases the band’s talents. Al’s solo on the cornet as well as Kid Anderson’s riffs are tasty. I believe the song should get a lot of airplay on blues stations. It certainly will during my roadhouse blues shows.
- My Hero captures Al’s style in a nutshell; easy accessible jazzy blues with adult observations on life. I like it!!
- On We Lie On Your Grave, Al’s cornet and Kid’s guitar once again steal the show but they have to compete with some rather unusual mental visualizations on a tune that only Al could write.
In the liner notes for the recording, Al posits whether there is such a thing as “eternal cool”. I answer in the affirmative and encourage him to keep looking at the world and himself and letting us know what he thinks in song and verse. For not matter what he says…..Al Basile will always be pretty cool!
Al Basile – Through With Cool (Sweetspot Records 2022)
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Ben Vee started out spinning songs on terrestrial radio and at nightclubs back in the 1970’s in his home state of Louisiana. After a career in the construction business, he returned to DJing in 2011. He now hosts two shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and writes about the blues at http://www.benveeblues.com from his home in Connecticut. He also has a personal 24 hour stream devoted to the Roadhouse Blues… WRHB as well as a Youtube channel.