Al Basile

Groovin' in the Mood Room

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Vocalist/cornet player Al Basile's longtime friend Duke Robillard gets front cover billing, as well he should, as co-producer and guitarist on this impressive outing. The album, Basile's fifth, was even recorded at the guitarist's Pawtucket, RI studio called the Mood Room, hence the album's title. Musically, it's a combination of old-school R&B ("Baby Sister," "Be a Woman"), swamp-tinged rock & roll ("I'm in a Mood"), mid-tempo, Chuck Berry styled groovers ("Coffee and Cadillacs"), grinding blues ("Picked to Click") and even a jump blues throwback to the duo's Roomful of Blues days ("She's on the Mainline"). Robillard keeps the sound full yet stripped down -- most of the tracks feature a standard three-piece -- bass/drums/guitar setup -- which leaves space for Basile's sly vocals and snappy lyrics. Basile, a teacher and fiction author who also has a Master's degree in creative writing, not surprisingly crafts lyrics that are far more imaginative and original than most blues artists'. But they never detract from these melodies that glide along sparked by Robillard's tasty licks. The sound is clean and direct with each instrument clear in the mix as Basile and Robillard work off each other's strengths. As an added bonus, Basile writes short blurbs for each track in the accompanying booklet. Most of these are witty, some enlightening and all convey a better grasp of why the song was written and/or how it was performed. The notes bring a personal touch to an album that sure sounds like a labor of love for Basile and Robillard. They have created a low-key but tremendously enjoyable gem that any lover of classic R&B, and most Roomful of Blues fans, will relish.

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