Blues by a pro
Reviewed March 2010
Soul Blue 7
By Al Basile
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Blues singer/songwriter Al Basile will be familiar to fans of the early lineups Roomful of Blues, the New England blues band that featured guitarists Duke Robillard and Ronnie Earl and big horn sections starting in the late 1960s through the mid-'80s and continuing with Robillard back on board now. Basile was first coronet player in Robillard's earliest versions, left in the mid-'70s for a non-music career, then came back on the scene to write and record music as a solo blues performer. "The Tinge," from 2008, was his sixth disc, and featured Robillard and other players dating back to his earlier spell in the Roomful. Basile's new one is "Soul Blue 7," and repeats the formula.
Basile wrote and sings on all thirteen tracks, which were produced by Robillard at his studio, with long-time collaborators like drummer Mark Teixeira, keyboardist Bruce Katz, and various veteran horn players including Basile, who plays coronet solos on most of the tracks. Basile is also a good blues singer, his voice ratchets up some genuine blues emotion without overly dominating the project or sounding thin. The material, however, isn't that memorable, with a few exceptions.
The disc starts off well with "Housekey Blues," a nod to Robert Cray that works a funky blues lick and uses some nice soloing by Robillard to good effect. "Lonely Are the Brave" is a bit of a change-up on a slow blues guitar/organ grinder with a muted cornet solo by Basile. Melding a reggae beat with blues horns and vocal on "Cruising Joy" flops, but "This Dream (Still Coming True)" comes right back and uses a driving bass line and R&B vibe to pull off the disc highlight.
"Fool Me Again" goes for smooth soul and works, while "Termites in My Basement" is another catchy, raw blues. But there are a few too many similar, mid-tempo blues tunes ("You Showed Me Something," "Wrong Love").
Blues fans will find much to enjoy here, as will fans of Robillard and Basile. In fact, the music here is very similar to the music on Robillard's recent blues discs, like "World Full of Blues" except for the sound of the vocalist. This is smooth, well-played blues music, done by pros.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.