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Love & Revolution

Nicola Conte

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Album Review

On each of his recordings, jazz auteur Nicola Conte has explored a different side of his multi-faceted personality as a conceptualist, a composer, and a guitarist. While there is some overlap on each of his last three offerings, he combines various styles in new and compelling ways — all with large casts of players. Love & Revolution — gorgeously arranged by Magnus Lindgren with many returning players from 2009's Rituals — employs the sounds of sunshine Euro-pop, jazz balladry, and Eastern-tinged and modal jazz. There are eight different vocalists, and stellar soloists including trumpeters Till Brönner and Flavio Boltro, saxophonists Lindgren, Timo Lassy, and Tim Warfield, a stellar rhythm section, and other selective personnel. Conte plays guitar, but it's his direction, compositions, and choice of cover material that really shine. Gregory Porter's singing and Bridgette Amofah's backing vocals fuel the groovy "Do You Feel Like I Feel," that has traces of a big-band arrangement of "Workin' on a Groovy Thing," with its sprightly, warm horn section and shimmering tambourines and snare drums topped by a sax break from Lindgren. José James and Nailah Porter duet on the smooth soul-jazz nugget "Love from the Sun," backed by a smaller group. Lindgren's arrangement borrows its opening vamp from Mario Biondi's hit "This Is What You Are." James takes the lead on a beautiful reading of Dave Mackay and Vicky Hamilton's "Here" from their 1969 self-titled offering. The reeds and winds swoon and swoop yet leave room for a fine solo by Brönner. Another real groover is "Black Spirits" with Nailah Porter's vocal leading the Afro-Cuban strut. Melanie Charles' voice fronts the airy, flute-heavy samba arrangement of "Shiva." Speaking of Charles, her voice on Conte's title track — the album's funkiest — is simultaneously steamy and declarative, holding in its grain a new and savvy hope. The covers of Jackie McLean's "Ghana" (with lyrics by Conte) and Cal Massey's "Quit Dawn" with Gregory Porter's and Charles' vocals, respectively, are excellent interpretations of these classics for the 21st century. Ghalia Benali's vocal in front of the knotty tentet on the traditional "Ra in Egypt" is transformative, with its Middle Eastern modes infused with Italian jazz classicism. Likewise, the swirling reading of Ed Rose's "All Praise to Allah" and the languid, deeply soulful interpretation of Mal Waldron's "Temple of Far East" (the latter with lyrics by Conte, and James' finest vocal on the album), move the set's direction into a new sonic terrain that blurs jazz's subgenres while remaining faithful to the intent of the originals. Love & Revolution finds Conte at an energetic, focused, creative peak; he's making new music that solidly points at the global future of jazz, even as it unabashedly gathers information from the deep sources of its rich, varied history.

Customer Reviews

Amazing

Saw these play at Ronnie Scott's last night and they were awesome. Skilful musicians who compliment each other to form a rich blend of cool jazz topped off by some sublime soulful and sexy vocals.

Yes. But get the "Deluxe Edition".

Yes, straight away I'll say this album is truly a great proposition and well worth purchasing.

One immediate thing to note here is that the previous two albums are much more latin jazz lead, while this is more slightly open to other genres, featuring some great covers. But tracks still fit well within the oeuvre of Nicola, and have certainly had his treatment to add a new dimension to them.

All performances are excellent, featuring a variant instrumental, and especially vocal, different timbre on each.

As a Nicola Conte (massive) fan —as well as a soul/ funk listener— this hits the spot on many levels. But be aware it is *not* quite as latin jazz influenced as its predecessors, featuring many more similar influences. This means others may find it not wholly to their complete taste. The spiritual jazz influences I found very welcome, and I hope Nicola can perhaps stretch these further into his next album.

The production values are, as expected, exemplarily; as per usual of Nicola productions. I commend the engineering teams whole-heartedly.

One thing, as per mentioned in my title, is the fact that I had to buy the *2* x CD "Deluxe Edition" in order to get the FULL release, which dismayed me somewhat as a fan. But even the 15 track version sums up a great release, so do not feel hesitant in procuring it.

As one of the few talented1960's bossa-jazz reinventionist performers out there, Nicola and team are at the top of their game, and I only hopes they return to London to perform at Ronnie's (which I sorely missed!) or elsewhere very soon.

Biography

Born: Bari, Italy

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

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...
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Love & Revolution, Nicola Conte
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