Al Basile hits the sweet spot of jazz listeners with his excellent project Red Breath. Blues fans know him for his work with Roomful of Blues and previous solo work so this will come as a pleasant change. This album is a natural progression for the artist. His cornet playing and singing are exemplary and the vocals reminded me of Tony Bennett, very warm with plenty of emotion, tone, and just the right inflection to get the song across with style.
The musicianship is outstanding on this album, which comes as no surprise to me. Basile is a fine musician, crafty writer, and vocalist. The other contributing musicians are obviously on the same level as the featured artist. Long time collaborator and band mate Duke Robillard, produced the album and played guitar on "I Didn’t Know About You" and "Born To Swing." When I listened to "This Could Be The Year" it immediately made me think of the Red Sox. Al is from Rhode Island and I am from Massachusetts so it was only natural to think that. I am sure it could have multiple meanings dependent on who you are.
I found Basile’s transition from a blues to jazz a complete success; in his process, he comes full circle while connecting his influences with legends such as Armstrong, and Ellington, then goes out on a limb covering some rare Vernon Duke and Rodgers and Hart tunes, which get the jazz treatment for the first time. This is a clever and innovative concept by the artist. He sounds as if singing these songs were the natural course to take, the right exit of the musical highway. His fluid style and intelligent approach to the music make it a memorable event that you will seek out frequently. With each listen, the deep color palette of jazz reaches another level. My listening experience received enrichment with tracks that have a warm thread of timelessness woven into them. You know when it is over that you just heard something very special.