2014 RELEASE - Swing n' Strings


1. Oh! Look at Me Now (Bushkin/DeVries) 3:44

2. All I Need is the Girl (Styne, Sondheim) \ 4:37

3. A Hundred Years From Today (V. Young, Washington, J. Young) 4:21

4. I Know What I've Got, Don't Know What I'm Getting (Sid Robin) 5:22

5. Things We Said Today (Lennon, McCartney) 4:15

6. Oh, You Crazy Moon (Burke. Van Heusen) 4:24

7. Heat Wave (Irving Berlin) 3:38

8. A Kiss to Build a Dream On (Kalmar, Ruby, Hammerstein II) 4:32

9. Jim (Shawn, Perillo, Ross) 4:44

10. I Was a Little Too Lonely (Livingston, Evans) 3:11

11. Don't Wait Too Long (Sunny Skylar) 5:04

12. This Nearly Was Mine (Rodgers, Hammerstein II) 3:34

Swing n' Strings

This record was made under unusual circumstances. We were booked to play an outdoor concert for the Rhode Island Historical Society's summer series in July of 2013. It had been a long time since we'd played out, so it was easier to work up a new set list and new arrangements than to try to remember the old ones. Fred and Bob began meeting at my house for rehearsals in February, and they did a lot of great work arranging the songs we chose for two guitars and bass. We brought Marty and Rich in for later rehearsals and were ready to play when heavy rain on the day of the concert forced a cancellation. The Historical Society had already committed their rain date to a band which had been rained out earlier in the summer, so the best they could do was offer us a date in 2014. This was very kind but I knew it involved a problem: since we worked so little, we would have no chance to repeat the new arrangements enough to set them in our memories. After a year passed they'd be forgotten.

At this point something unprecedented happened. My personal fortunes, which had been unsettled for about a year, suddenly cleared up, and I found myself with a sum of money which for various reasons had to be spent during 2013. I got a brainstorm: let's record the new arrangements with the band and have both a handy reference for us when next summer arrived, and a CD we could have available to the concertgoers to commemorate the event they'd just heard.

I was already working with Duke Robillard on my tenth solo CD, Woke Up in Memphis, for my Sweetspot label, which used him and his band to back me on 14 of my own new songs in a 60s Memphis soul/gospel/R&B vein – very different from the swing based jazz of Swing n' Strings, especially when it came to the vocal style. It made for a busy and rather schizophrenic summer and fall for me, as we worked on both records simultaneously, often switching from one day to another. But it was exhilarating as well. I'm especially proud of the way Fred and Bob took to the studio experience, which was a newer one for them than for the rest of us. It's certainly a lesson on how one rainy day's disappointment can be transformed into a lasting source of satisfaction.

Al Basile, cornet and vocals

Fred Bates, guitar, fills and solos

Rich Lataille, alto sax 2, 4

tenor sax 6, 11

Bob Zuck, guitar and vocal on "I Know What I've Got, Don't Know What I'm Getting"

solos 4, 8, 10

Marty Ballou, bass


Los Angeles Jazz Scene

While Basile’s singing sometimes recalls Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra in its phrasing, he has his own sound. And although Louis Armstrong is his idol on trumpet, the same can be said for his melodic solos. He simply sounds like himself, and it works quite well on this lightly swinging set.

Scott Yanow


Basile is blessed with a voice that is ideally suited to this idiom, his pitch, tone and phrasing echoing that of masters like Sinatra and Tormé – just listen to the relaxed feel of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘All I Need Is The Girl’ and Nat King Cole’s ‘I Was A Little Too Lonely’ to see what I mean.

Being a cornet player it was inevitable that Basile would be influenced by Louis Armstrong, an influence that comes to the fore on ‘A Kiss to Build A Dream On’ – whilst Louis Jordan’s influence is plain to see on ‘I know what I’ve Got, Don’t Know What I’m Getting’.

If you love the jazzier side of the blues then this can only be described as essential.

Mick Rainsford

The selection of tunes is superb, with a hip groove taken on The Beatles’ “Things We Said Today” being a highlight, but more obscure beauties such as “I Know What I’ve Got..” and “Don’t Wait Too Long” putting a knowing smile on your face. The steady swing provided by the two guitarists gets some nice extra obbligatos, riffs and solos by Lataille on a nifty “Al I Need is the Girl” and “Don’t Wait Too Long” and Basile’s cornet is Beiderbecke warm on “A Hundred Years From Today.” The whole session has an infectiously energetic feel that makes you want to join in the party. No complaints here!

George W. Harris

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