By Schaen Fox
Baritone saxophonist Frank Basile was called a “prized sideman” by The New Yorker. That’s because he has appeared with a wide range of prestigious bands including the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars Big Band, and a Bill Charlap-led salute to Birth of the Cool at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. At 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 3, Basile will be leading a quintet at the Jazz & Blues Showcase in Burlington, NJ. Joining him will be tenor saxophonist Sam Dillon, pianist Jeb Patton, bassist Mike Karn, and drummer Aaron Kimmel.
The roots of Burlington, NJ, go back to 1666 when three Dutch settlers insured popular interest in the area by opening a tavern. Hopefully, with Russell Quagliata’s popular concert series, Jazz & Blues Showcase, having relocated to the town’s arts center, interest will continue to grow. The series consists of seven concerts a year, four in the spring and three in the fall. Quagliata, its founder, says he was attracted to the location because it is, “a beautiful old restored building with great acoustics, comfortable seating and free parking on the street and in the adjacent parking lot. There are a number of nice restaurants within a walking distance of a block or two. You can make it a nice Sunday experience.” Indeed, attractions such as the scenic Delaware River, historic Smithville Park and the Pinelands are all close by.
Quagliata has strong connections to many jazz artists as a result of his friendship with, and management of, the great baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne’s musical affairs from the late 1970s until the early 2000s. “During that time,” he points out, “I was able to interact with many of Mr. Payne’s noted jazz contemporaries and some of the young jazz artists rising in jazz circles. I engaged several of them at various [venues] for shows [in the Tri-State area.]” Among them were Clark Terry, Lou Donaldson, Red Rodney, Benny Powell, Slide Hampton, Etta Jones, Houston Person, and Pepper Adams.
“The years spent with Mr. Payne motivated me to keep this wonderful music alive,” Quagliata says, “and to have it performed by professional jazz artists.” In October, the Jazz & Blues Showcase presented trumpeter Joe Magnarelli, organist Akiko Tsuruga, and drummer Byron Landham; in September, the featured artists were tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, organist Pat Bianchi, and drummer Rudy Petschauer.Prices are usually $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students and children. “We may on occasion charge $25 for adults, but that is rare, and discounts are available,” he adds. Burlington’s Lyceum Hall Center for the Arts is at 432 High Street. Information about the Jazz and Blues Showcase is at http://www.jazzandbluesshowcase.com/.