Nicola Contes new album Umoja will be released this summer through Far Out Recordings: It’s a spiritual journey which Nicola has gone thru with his long-time friend and musician-partner such like ZaraMcFarlane, Bridgette Amofah, Teppo Mäkynen, Abdissa Mambo Assefa but also with Timo Lassy on saxophone and Myles Sanko on one of his ´soulful songs
In 2021 he released together with Gianluca Petrella “People need people”, a pretty much ‘club-oriented’ music, influenced by various genres, characterize the recent history of our globalized world: the overlapping of individual experiences creates new collaborations, as it happened here: DJ, musician and producer Nicola Conte meets again, sixteen years after the release of “New Standards”, his friend and colleague Gianluca Petrella (Blue Note, ECM), an internationally renowned talent emerged from the Italian jazz scene, an eclectic musician open to new experiences and collaborations.
The collaboration wasn’t limited to the production of these tracks, but involved a collaborative research effort; the two have in fact been diggin’ together, exchanged rare records, sampled and worked with analogue vintage gear. This new album comes from two seasoned Italian jazz men, expressing their idea of a dancefloor; an experiment nodding to the scene of Detroit, with Conte and Petrella filtering and distilling the many impressions and influences coming from jazz to disco, house and beyond.
Some of the tracks such like African Spirit -a spiritual mantra, a simple dancefloor groove capable to induce an ecstatic feel; New World Shuffle– built on the same element and is enhanced by Bridgette Amofah’s vocals; Sun Song – a delightful journey into Detroit-influenced contemporary disco whose mesmerizing and hypnotic samples bring the listener into a buoyant ecstatic trance and Nigeria – the afro-jazz track adding a tribal vibe are available on 3 pre released EPs.
BUT: We are excited to see and listen to this fresh piece of music!
7-8 Piece Live Band
To comprehend fully Nicola Conte’s music originality and sensibility we should refer, together with his productions, to the activity of Fez, a cultural movement founded by Conte himself in Bari in the early 1990s. A real melting pot of several creative musicians, who most importantly are friends and grew up together with the same intellectual, musical, and political interests. Cultural trouble-makers, emotional dreamers, jazz enthusiasts of the 1950s and 1960s, deep “nouvelle vague” connoisseurs, compulsive vinyl collectors, design and graphic experts, people crazy for the cultural beat and books written by revolutionaries like Jean Paul Sartre and Boris Vian.
The atmosphere at Fez seemed to be the same at Tabou, the legendary “caveau” in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, described by Vian himself. It was a place where to listen to records, watch cult movies of those decades (1950s and 1960s), and look for solutions to intellectual unrest.
Today, some years later, one of the strongest expressions highlighted at Fez is still that of music.
In that period Fez became the reference point for the artists involved in the acid jazz scene, really fashionable in London; Nicola Conte is considered the irreplaceable link with our country: he brings artists already famous abroad but still unknown in Italian clubs.
Sociologically in the past we would have defined Fez a perfect example of cultural decentralization “ante litteram,” far from the neuralgic center of the country.
Through Nicola Conte’s efforts Fez started to be recognized as a cultural movement in its own right. Then he decided to direct his ideas towards the music productions: he began collaborating as a remixer at Schema Records and he created bands like the Paolo Achenza Trio, QuintettoX, Fez Combo, Intensive Jazz Sextet, and Balanço. Their works well underline Nicola’s love for global jazz and reveals his other great passions to us, like soundtracks—especially the old Italian productions by Piero Piccioni and Ennio Morricone—and the Brazilian genre Bossa Nova.
The three different styles strongly connected—jazz, soundtracks, and Bossa Nova—are well expressed in the productions of the 1990s and strictly bound to the Afro roots.
The year 2000 is the turn of “Other Directions,” released by Blue Note. This record represents Nicola Conte’s music aesthetic, from every perspective. Always poised between jazz and Bossa Nova, here we find the compositive soul bound to refined acoustic atmospheres.
“Other Directions” sold more than 60.000 copies worldwide and became a mile stone because of the collaboration and musical affinities of some Italian and international artists
From the London Jazz Cafè to the Milan Blue Note and the Tokyo Billboard, from the Swiss Montreaux Jazz Festival to the German Jazz Open Stuttgart, the sound of “Other Directions” has been largely acknowledged and nowadays is still a smash hit, which demonstrates the unique feeling of his music and of the Jazz Combo band, and above all it reproduces in the live performances the freshness of the sound created during the several studio recording phases
2008 is the year of “Rituals,” which confirms the multifaceted talent and maturity of this artist and instrumentalist from Bari. Recorded between late 2005 and October 2007, this work as well develops above all around a now legendary group that follows the artist. We find Pietro Lussu, Pietro Ciancaglini, Fabrizio Bosso, Lorenzo Tucci, and Daniele Scannapieco, with whom Nicola Conte has elaborated many tracks present on the album, alongside his other friends Gianluca Petrella, Gaetano Partipilo, and Till Brönner, also present in “Other Directions to be followed by the strong Love and Revolution on the famous Sixties Jazz Label Impulse where Nicola took a reflection in music on the values of our society: values to recuperate, values that have continued to be a beacon for many generations, values sung by youths in the late 1960s. And it is precisely this cultural atmosphere that Conte refers to, both in his choice of repertoire and in the splendid arrangements by Magnum Lindgren, and (perhaps above all) in the lyrics, all written by Conte himself (with the exception of two).
Love & Revolution makes use of the talents of singers José James, Nailah Porter, Melanie Charles, Gregory Porter (U.S.A.), Veronica Harcsa (Hungary), Alice Ricciardi (Italy), and Bridgette Amofah (U.K.); trumpet players Till Brönner (Germany), Nicolas Folmer (France), Fabrizio Bosso and Flavio Boltro (Italy); trombonist Peter Fredriksson (Sweden), sax player and flautist Magnum Lindgren (as well as arranger, Sweden), Gaetano Partipilo (Italy), Timo Lassy (Finland), Logan Richardson and Tim Warfield (U.S.A.); pianist Pietro Lussu, bassist Paolo Benedettini (Italy); drummer Teppo Makynen (Finland); vibes player Michael Pinto (U.S.A.); drummer Pierpaolo Bisogno, and the programming of Andrea Santoro (Italy), as well as the leader’s contribution at the guitar.
In the beginning of May 2014 his album Free Souls was released in Europe on Schema Records and on Universal Records in Japan. It is a collection of some of his unreleased tracks from last years… you can’t believe what he found in his basket! Lovely tracks from his recordings with Jose James, Till Broenner, Magnus Lindgren and others! Free Souls is a pure soul album which is based on the early 60s change of direction in musical research, especially in Jazz: a turn into deepness.
In September 2017 his new collaboration with Gianluca Petrella, the famous Italian trombonist, came out with their 2 EPs on Schema Records Italy called: Nicola Conte & Gianluca Petrella – African Spirits / New World Shuffle followed 2018 by Sun Song / Nigeria, connecting Detroit Nu-Disco and Afro Spiritual Funk.
For his 2018 album Nicola Conte & Spiritual Galaxy ‚Let Your Light Shine On‘ released on MPS Records Conte has casually interwoven soul and grooves pulsing with the beat and breath of Africa. In doing so, Conte combined elements that seemingly do not belong together. Nicola Conte has cast his vision of cosmic jazz into a seamless tonal design – without restricting his players` freedom, leaving them open to the influences of diverse cultures. “Everyone should be able to express themselves freely,” Conte says; “this album is much more open than my last one. Everything was recorded live and with a minimum of overdubs.”
His release in 2021 continued the collaboration with Gianluca Petrella and led to the wonderful album People need People.
This innovative jazz revivalist has always been open to sounds of every sort and color.