John Basile was born in the Boston area and began playing in local show bands and organ groups at an early age. He attended Berklee College of Music and graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music.
Moving to NYC John has performed and recorded in a wide variety of formats both as a leader and a sideman. As an accompanist he has worked with Peggy Lee, Sylvia Syms, Rosemary Clooney, Mark Murphy, and Tony Bennett as well as live performances with contemporary instrumentalists George Mraz , Tom Harrell, John Abercrombie, and Red Mitchell to name just a few.
Musically John's guitar style utilizes a finger-style technique that approaches the guitar like a piano. For John the challenge of comping chord fragments and playing melodies simultaneously provides a backdrop for a more open style of playing and improvising. When asked about his most important influences, the first two names he mentions are not other guitar players; Frank Sinatra heads the list and then Bill Evans. Perhaps this explains why John Basile is one of a select group of jazz instrumentalists who doesn’t sound like everyone else. Basile is also one of those rare players who still treasures songs. Not just the tunes, but the songs; musical and lyrical ideas combined in a way that creates a vibrant structure that invites interpretation.
Basile’s ability to ‘sing’ on the guitar is the result of a unique approach to the instrument. He uses a finger-style technique in which he plays the melody and at the same time accompanies himself with fragments of the harmony. The big five and six note chords that are normally strummed are replaced with choice two or three note percussive voicings. Most players, using a pick, strum a chord and then play a single line solo phrase followed by another chord and another solo phrase. Basile, using his fingers, plays both the solo line and the chords simultaneously. This style is similar to the right and left hands of a pianist. It is important to note that this is not something that Basile works out as part of an arrangement for any particular song. This is the language he speaks on the guitar to seek improvisational clarity as the goal.