Eight-time Blues Music Award-nominated singer/songwriter/cornetist Al Basile announces an audio play version of his new album, Last Hand, is being released to all streaming and downloading platforms via The Orchard. Dubbed Last Hand 2.0, Basile (vocals and cornet) and his sparse trio of Bruce Bears on keyboards, Brad Hallen on bass and Mark Teixeira on drums, are joined by an audio cast of Sharon Coleman as “The Young Woman,” Chuck Goldberg as “The Friend” and John Mailloux as “The Bartender.” Al Basile, himself, plays “The Trumpet Player.”
The combination of the late-night, after-hours musical groove (that falls comfortably between blues and jazz), and the added dialogue creates a film noir-ish feel to the audio play. Listen to the complete Last Hand 2.0 audio play with all the music here.
Upon the musical album’s initial release in August, Al Basile described the even-dozen tracks on Last Hand as telling the story of a May/December romance - which ends too soon - from the man's point of view. It’s also his initial stab at producing himself. All of his previous albums had been produced by his long-time friend and fellow Roomful of Blues alumnus Duke Robillard.
“Last Hand 2.0 immerses the listener deeper into the story of Last Hand,” he explains. “For the first time, we hear from the woman, and we hear the two of them go through key moments in their relationship which lead to the songs. Unlike a stage musical where everything is projected out at the audience, here we’re allowed to overhear the intimate exchange of the lovers - how they are drawn together, and what happens later.’
First, some background on audio plays. “They used to be called radio plays,” Basile advises. “I ran a radio theater at Brown University in the 1970s, where I wrote, directed, produced and acted in radio drama. A few years ago I wrote Flash Blind, a neo-noir thriller as an audio play, and recorded it with some actors last fall. I entered it into the national audio theater competition, HEARnow, which normally meets for three days in Kansas City in June. It was chosen to be featured at the silver level in this year's festival, but the virus forced the event to be shifted from a live one to a website which featured podcasts of the featured plays. It was featured on one of the podcasts that ran from Mid-June to mid-August this summer.
“With the national competition happening each year, I started thinking about something for me to submit for next year. Since I already had the story of Last Hand in the songs on the CD, I decided to fill it out with dramatic scenes which set up the songs the way the book does in a musical play. That would make the CD of Last Hand like an original cast album from a show, where you don't get the scenes but do get the songs. By making an audio drama version of the scenes with the songs in place, I have an audio musical which I can submit this year to the HEARNow festival as a special drama with songs. With the CD release date in August, I had enough time to record the scenes and create Last Hand 2.0, which will not only be released on all digital platforms, but also on my YouTube Page.
“So this project builds on what I did on Me & the Originator by combining music and poetry, and adds drama, like Flash Blind combined drama and poetry. I'm just going to keep on doing things that take all my diverse skills: singing, songwriting, horn playing, playwriting, verse writing, acting, editing and directing to bring it off.”
About Al Basile:
Al Basile’s previous album releases have consistently made the top 20 on the Living Blues charts. He’s been nominated eight times for a BMA as Best Horn Player, and his 2016 release, Mid-Century Modern, was nominated as Best Contemporary Blues Album. His songs have been covered by Ruth Brown, Johnny Rawls, and the Knickerbocker All Stars. Guests on his own releases have included the Blind Boys of Alabama, Sista Monica Parker, Sugar Ray Norcia, Jerry Portnoy, and jazz great Scott Hamilton.
Celebrated for his mastery of lyric writing as well as music, Al's skill with words extends to his other career as a poet: he is published regularly in leading journals, has won prizes, and has two books in print collecting his work from the Seventies until the present day. For the last three years he has taught lyric writing, led panels, and performed at poetry conferences.
Born in Haverhill, Mass., on the north shore of Boston, Al was the first to receive a Master's degree from Brown University's writing program. He was the first trumpet player for Roomful of Blues in the mid-Seventies, and he's enjoyed a long relationship as a co-writer and sideman during Robillard's solo career since the Eighties, garnering credits as songwriter and trumpet player on a dozen of Duke's CDs and DVDs. In 1998, he released his first solo CD on his own Sweetspot label. He also taught English, music, and physics in a private Rhode Island high school for 25 years before devoting himself to music and poetry full time in 2005.