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Guitarist John Basile has been cruising the sideman circuit for the past twenty years, in addition to releasing a handful of respected projects as leader. It Was a Very Good Year finds Mr. Basile with a new label boasting the same sumptuous tone listeners to his earlier recordings have come to expect. Basile achieves a wonderful blend of sound, mood, timber and time with his guitar-organ quartet.
The title track is a perfect example of this point. Basile's band takes the Sinatra staple at a quiet pace, with Jason Devlin using brushes most effectively. Jerry Z’s accompaniment sounds like Basile dubbed himself into the mix, until the organist begins his cool, understated solo. Cool and warm—warm and cool—this music is a dichotomy, a beautiful enigma.
Basile’s recital choices indicate a well-studied guitarist. He attended Berklee College of Music and graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music. He went on to become an educator himself, developing the Jazz Guitar Curriculum at the New School in New York City. Mr. Basile’s brains and talent illuminate his informed treatments of John Abercrombie’s "Ralph’s Piano Waltz," Red Mitchell’s "One Long String," Joe Pass’ "Catch Me," and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s "Zingaro." He allows his band ample solo space and they all take advantage of this generosity.
This is not greasy roadhouse organ jazz. It's ultra-cool music that oddly can warm a room. Rarely does the volume rise above brushes and the gentle purr of the B-3. Bassist Nick Misch provides the low-tone under pinning of the band, rather than the organist’s feet. Misch’s tone is full and round and slightly behind the beat, all contributing to the very cool exterior of this warm music. The result is much much greater than the sum of its parts, making this release one of the finest of this year.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.