Baritonist Frank Basile gets around. And by that I mean shakin’ up the scene with the likes of The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band, The Jimmy Heath Big Band, The Dave Holland Big Band, The Joe Lovano Nonet, Michael Bublé, The Christian McBride Big Band, Pablo Mayor’s Folklore Urbano, The Richie Vitale Quintet, The Chris Byars Octet, The Bob Mintzer Big Band, The Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Dennis Mackrell’s Manhattan Symphony Jazz Orchestra, The Jason Lindner Ensemble plus a bunch more.
Before his forays deep into the heart of the New York jazz scene, the Illinois-born bari beast rocked the lower part of the sax section in North Texas University’s world renown One O’Clock Band. Heck he was even named UNT’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Jazz Studies. Moving from success to success, Basile was also a recipient of 2001’s Downbeat Student Music Award in the Jazz Instrumentalist category.
So without further ado…
Doron Orenstein: What was it that inspired you to make music your life?
Frank Basile: I think it was simply the fact that the more I studied and listened to music (specifically jazz), the more I got interested and curious about it. And when it came time as a young person to start thinking about what I wanted to do with my life, it seemed natural to choose something that I knew I would enjoy and never get tired with.
DO: What do you find yourself practicing the most these days?
FB: I’m always working on trying to expand my repertoire, as well as further solidify what’s already there. I’m also always striving to get as comfortable as possible with improvising in all keys. Lately, I’ve also been transcribing some arrangements for larger ensembles to hopefully teach myself a bit about arranging and orchestration.
DO: What have you been listening to lately?
FB: My listening habits don’t change too much day-in and day-out. I’m nourished by a steady diet of Sonny Stitt, Art Blakey, Kenny Dorham, Count Basie, Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, Pepper Adams, Thad Jones, Sonny Rollins, Donald Byrd, John Coltrane, Horace Silver, etc.
DO: What would you say is the skill or attribute that’s helped you the most as a musician?
FB: I’m really not sure what the answer to that would be, because as musicians, we’re all striving to hone all of our musical skills at all times. But I’d say that one should never overlook the importance of non-musical skills such as professionalism, being on time, having a good attitude, etc.
DO: What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve been given over the course of your playing career?
FB: The only way to get better is to practice, and play!
DO: What’s the next musical frontier for Frank Basile?
FB: The next musical frontier for me will always be to keep developing, improving, and maturing as a musician. But one specific thing that I hope to do in the future is arrange and compose for a large group such as a nonet or big band.
DO: For those new to your music, which recording would you suggest they pick up?
FB: I have 2 recordings out as a leader: Thursday the 12th and Pepper Adams: Complete Compositions, Vol. 4. I’d also recommend a recording I recently did with the great trumpet player, Fabien Mary: Quartet +1.
DO: What’s your saxophone equipment setup?
- Selmer Super Balanced Action baritone
- Selmer Mark VI baritone.
- very old Berg Larsen metal mouthpiece
- Rico Jazz Select 4 Medium Unfiled and Rico Reserve 3 1/2 reeds.
To learn more about Frank, make sure to check out his website at FrankBasileMusic.com
Photo by Sarah Sloboda