Al Basile, the singer, songwriter, cornetist and former member of Roomful of Blues, delivers a jolt of Bluff City soul on his new CD, Woke Up in Memphis, on Sweetspot (with distribution by City Hall Records).
Produced by Basile’s lifelong friend and musical collaborator Duke Robillard, who adds his trademark guitar sounds throughout, Woke Up in Memphis is also fueled by a dynamite horn section that includes Basile, current Roomful tenor sax player Rich Lataille and former member Doug James on baritone sax, along with Mark Teixeira on drums and percussion, Bruce Bears on keyboards, Brad Hallen on electric bass and special guest vocalist Sista Monica Parker.
Acclaimed not only for his sweet cornet playing, but also his literate blues songwriting, Al Basile lays down a groove of 14 originals on the new CD that sound as if they’d be right at home on a Stax or Hi Records session in the 1960s, but with a contemporary feel that makes them vital. With song titles such as “Don’t Make Me Beg,” “When Things Get Tough (the Tough Get Things),” “Saved by the Blues,” “Too Tough,” “Big Like Elvis” and the title track, fans of roots music will feel like they “Woke Up in Memphis” from the moment the first sounds emanate out of the speakers.
Celebrating 15 years on his own Sweetspot label, Woke Up in Memphis is Al Basile’s tenth solo CD, collecting 14 of his new songs inspired by classic ‘60s Memphis musical styles: soul, R&B, and gospel. The new album builds on the success of his last recording, At Home Next Door, which reached the number 12 spot on the Living Blues airplay chart and earned Al his third Blues Music Award nomination. It mixes secular lyrics with the first of Al’s gospel songs to appear on one of his releases, a duet with Sista Monica Parker on the powerful “Make a Little Heaven.”
At Home Next Door drew universal kudos for its inspired mix of blues, soul, and R&B sounds. “Al is a complete master of music, of many genres,” said Blues Underground Network, “but I am telling you right now, that I really enjoyed the wonderful potpourri of musical styles … Al has exactly what it takes to capture your attention, regardless of what musical genres you prefer.”
“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,” wrote Sunday Night Blues Project in its review. “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.”
“Al Basile has raised his profile considerably over the past few years. His past four discs have charted in the Top 15 on the Living Bluesairplay charts and he’s been nominated for multiple BMA’s as Best Horn Player. This retrospective/new release should raise his profile even more, showcasing his versatility as a songwriter, singer, and musician.” – Bluesbytes
“I haven’t heard the phrase ‘blue-eyed soul’ in a while, but I suppose it applies here. A consummate professional, Basile does what he does with feeling and intelligence, and he makes you want to come back for more.” – Rambles.net