Is it possible to overstate John Basile’s flair for the understated? Odds are fans of melodically alluring jazz guitar will be tempted to do just that after giving Amplitudes a spin. This collection of mostly pop and jazz standards is quiet testimony to Basile’s talent, taste and his autonomy, a solo recording that becomes more enjoyable with each listen.
Granted, some of the tune choices aren’t exactly surprising—“Moon River,” “My Funny Valentine” and “Stolen Moments” make the cut—but no matter. Basile’s renditions of even the most oft-performed favorites gathered here are unfailingly inventive, elegant and, in a few instances, sublime. Because he plays three guitars on the album that have distinctive sounds—steel- and nylon-string models—and employs multiple guitar tracks that often contrast picked melodies or improvisations with fingerstyle accompaniment, the arrangements are delightfully textured and woven.
Basile credits guitarist John Abercrombie for suggesting some distortion on a harmonically recast version of “My Funny Valentine,” and thanks guitarist Jim Hall and composer Jane Hall for providing the inspiration (and chordal propulsion) for another album highlight, “It’s Nice to Be With You.” The latter is followed by Ralph Towner’s haunting ballad “Celeste,” a melody that softly glows and shimmers, thanks to the artful finesse Basile displays on nylon-string guitar.
How this CD came to be is a curious story that involves Basile’s fascination with iPhone technology and his affection for pianist Bill Evans’ landmark recording Conversations With Myself. Suffice it to say that admirers of Evans won’t have any trouble hearing the connection.