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Nicola Conte

Idioma disponível: inglês
Nicola Conte is an Italian DJ, producer, composer, guitarist, and bandleader. During the early 21st century he introduced an innovative brand of acid jazz that incorporated bossa nova and samba tropes, melodic themes influenced by vintage Italian film soundtracks, West Coast jazz, easy listening, and Bollywood music. His 2000 debut album, Jet Sounds, employed samples of existing recordings into which he folded additional live instruments, rhythm tracks, and vocals. By the time he released 2004's Other Directions on Blue Note, he had enlisted a 12-piece band and composed all but two of the set's 14 tracks. 2007's Rituals employed no less than five lead vocalists, including Jose James and Chiara Civello, as well as an all-star instrumental cast comprising saxophonist Greg Osby, among others. 2011's Love & Revolution expanded the concept to include Euro-pop, jazz balladry, and Eastern-tinged modal jazz. 2014's Free Souls was begun in 2006 but completed in 2011; its music was deeply informed by mid-20th century jazz filtered through sophisticated soul. 2018's Let Your Light Shine featured an international band that included vocalists Bridgette Amofah and Zara McFarlane, South African pianist/keyboardist Nduduzo Makhathini, and African percussionists in a large, star-studded studio band. 2021's People Need People, with longtime collaborator and trombonist Gianluca Petrella, offered modal music in melding spiritual soul and jazz in an electro-acoustic mix that marked a return to hip-hop and EDM beats. Conte was born in Bari, in the Italian state of Puglia in 1964. As a child he was classically trained on piano and later studied the guitar, which became his primary instrument. He founded the loose-knit acid jazz-cum-space age bachelor pad outfit Fez Collective, which also included vocalist and future collaborator Stefania Dipierro. As electronic dance music culture evolved, Conte moved toward production and DJ'ing. He worked with the Paolo Achenza Trio, Balanco, Quintetto X, Fez Combo, Schema Sextet, and the Intensive Jazz Sextet. Working with label and distributor Ishtar, Conte curated the resurrection of the legendary Schema label; it provided many of the aforementioned artists a home base. The project cultivated a trademark, distinctly Italian approach to acid jazz. As for his own recording career, Conte scored an underground hit with his first single, "Bossa per Due," which appeared on a variety of compilations and was licensed in the U.S. for an Acura commercial. Conte's debut album, Jet Sounds, was issued in 2000. While employing a sampleadelic approach to existing jazz, samba, and bossa recordings, he employed his vast musical training to fold in additional instruments, rhythm tracks, and vocals. It was released in America as Bossa per Due, in a slightly reconfigured version on Thievery Corporation's ESL (Eighteenth Street Lounge) label. In mid-2002, he collaborated as producer, arranger, and co-composer with singer and songwriter Rosalia De Souza on her debut album, Garota Moderna, wedding broken beat, Continental jazz, and bossa nova. A remix album, Jet Sounds Revisited, followed in late 2002. Two years later, Conte signed to Blue Note's French subsidiary and changed up the game with Other Directions, a completely jazz-based date performed by a 12-piece band live in studio. American jazz critics celebrated the release alongside their European counterparts, but also lambasted the recording industry for not issuing it in the United States. Conte scored an international hit single with the track "Quiet Stars." That same year he released a second collaboration with De Souza titled Garota Diferente. During this period, Conte amassed dozens of credits as a producer and remixer. He worked with artists ranging from the Five Corners Quintet and Jazzanova to Gerardo Frisina and Koop to mention a few. Conte's writing, arranging, and production skills would dominate his career over the next several years. In 2008 he would return with the first of five Viagem volumes he curated for Far Out Recordings through 2013 offering rare jazz and samba recordings from '60s Brazil. That same year he released Rituals, a star-studded collection of originals with five lead vocalists including Jose James, Chiara Civello, and Alice Ricciardi, as well as instrumentalists from both sides of the pond: saxophonists Timo Lassy, Sandro Deidda, and Greg Osby, trumpeters Fabrizio Bosso and Till Brönner, trombonist Gianluca Petrella, drummer Teppo Mäkynen, and bassist Dario Deidda. Though Conte played guitar on the set, his primary roles were as producer, arranger, and bandleader. These were followed by a two-disc set of retrospective electronic recordings entitled The Modern Sound of Nicola Conte: Versions in Jazz Dub which was issued in early 2009. In 2011, Conte teamed with saxophonist and arranger Magnus Lindgren for Love & Revolution. Appearing on the Impulse! label, the set showcased another international large group setting that went beyond just jazz instrumentation to include oud, sitar, and electronics. Among the featured vocalists on the outing were Gregory Porter, Ricciardi, Bridgette Amofah, James, and Nailah Porter. It was followed by the Brazilian-themed EP Sketches of Samba in 2013. Conte forged ahead in his explorations, wedding deep modal and spiritual jazz to sophisticated pop and samba. Free Souls was released in the spring of 2014. Begun in 2006 and finally completed in 2011, it was composed of expansive originals and influential standards, including tunes by Ahmad Jamal, Bobbie Gentry, and Hoagy Carmichael. Further, it showcased a large number of vocalists including Marvin Parks and Melanie Charles who fronted a large acoustic ensemble that included Osby, Logan Richardson, Lassy, Bosso, and Lindgren. During the '90s, Conte had worked with vocalist Stefania Dipierro in a band called Fez. They reprised their partnership for 2016's Natural, a program of originals, jazz standards, and bossa/samba classics. Conte wrote some original tunes, produced the album, and played guitar, while Dipierro wrote others and sang in the company of a Conte-assembled band that included some of Italy's finest jazz musicians, including Bosso and saxist/flutist Gaetano Partipilo. After touring the record, the pair went their separate ways with the intention of working together again in the future. Conte issued a pair of collaborative singles with Gianluca Petrella: "African Spirits"/"New World Shuffle" in December of 2017, and "Sun Song b/w "Nigeria" in the late winter of 2018. In May, Conte issued the full-length Let Your Light Shine with an international all-star cast of jazz and world music musicians under the umbrella Nicola Conte & Spiritual Galaxy. They included vocalists Bridgette Amofah, Zara McFarlane, Carolina Bubbico, and Zoe Modica, and instrumentalists Logan Richardson on alto sax, Magnus Lindgren on tenor and flute, Theo Croker on trumpet, Pietro Lussu on keyboards, and Petrella on trombone and Moog. The trombonist and Conte co-led the long-player People Need People. Released in February 2021, it offered 11 originals co-written by the pair. South African pianist Nduduzo Makhathini collaborated on "Tribes," and made a guest appearance in an otherwise all European band. In a first, Conte and Petrella also enlisted their vocalists -- Débo Ray, Rahsaan Ahmad, Davide Shorty, and Amofah -- to contribute their own lyrics.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo
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