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Rituals

Nicola Conte

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Album Review

Guitarist Nicola Conte's sixth recording as a leader is a vocal tour de force, as five different singers split up duties on select tracks. With a substantial horn section pulled from the jazz ranks, Conte takes on the role of producer more than instrumentalist, while exploring various strains of Latin jazz backings for his words and music that are mostly from his personal book of tunes. The impressive rising star Jose James is the most prominent songsmith, with smooth jazz diva Chiara Civello much more rooted in a world music rather than a smooth jazz arena. With assistance from trumpeter Till Brönner, trombonist Gianluca Petrella, saxophonist Sandro Diedda, and especially the exceptional Timo Lassy on flute or baritone sax, Conte has a broad color palette to work from, and he uses every last ounce of that rainbow spectrum. James is turning into the best new jazz singer with good reason, as demonstrated on the boogaloo-styled, brass-based "Like Leaves in the Wind" and the hip 6/8-in-4/4 Afro-Cuban "The Nubian Queens," where his deep and cool voice resonates through the echoes of the music. In a lover's mood, James quietly caresses the lyrics of "Awakening" in a different arena, suggesting he could become an epic crooner. Civello is surprisingly good on her cameo, "Karma Flower," as the cascading harp of Diane Peters and Lassy's flute take the tune into chill territory. The bossa "Paper Clouds" tends to stray toward the pop style she is more known for, but is breezy enough to suggest that there's substance. Alto saxophonist Greg Osby joins Lassy (the true star of the date) and Diedda in the group for "Song for the Seasons," a cute jazz waltz, while "I See All Shades of You " is a heated-up samba with trumpeter Fabrizio Bosso fanning the flames, both of these cuts featuring the fine singing of Alice Ricciardi. Kim Sanders is less effective in more of an R&B/pop vein, sounding like a less mature Nnenna Freelon on her three features. She's on "Red Sun" in a smaller sextet that finally showcases Conte's guitar work with drummer Lorenzo Tucci, and "Love In" via a hip clave cha cha. Philipp Weiss is a background singer, but leads out on the suave, sultry "Caravan" in an octet with the trumpeters and Diedda minus Lassy, while the lone instrumental, "Rituals," has a distinct John Coltrane feeling of floating freedom, with Brönner leading the way alongside Peters and saxophonists Daniele Scannapieco (tenor) and Gaetano Partipilo (alto). All in all, this is a fine recording from start to finish, with plenty of dynamism, versatility among the vocalists, and enough meat from a world music perspective to be attractive to a wide-ranging audience — not definitive, but approaching it. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Biography

Born: Bari, Italy

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s

Italian DJ/producer Nicola Conte's loungey brand of acid jazz relies extensively on bossa nova, but is also heavily influenced by the swinging soundtracks of Italian films in the '60s and '70s, plus touches of ethnic music and easy listening kitsch reminiscent of Japan's Pizzicato Five. Part of the loose-knit Fez collective of artsy acid jazz revivalists centered in the Italian town of Bari, Conte was a classically trained musician who instead moved into production and DJing, working with artists...
Full bio
Rituals, Nicola Conte
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  • 7,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Bop, Dance, Electronic
  • Released: 24 September 2008

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