Nicola Conte

Nicola Conte

To comprehend Nicola Conte’s music originality and sensibility, we should refer to Fez’s activity, a cultural movement founded by Conte in Bari in the early 90s and became a melting pot of artists, cultural trouble-makers, jazz enthusiasts, and friends who shared intellectual, and musical interests. The atmosphere at Fez seemed to be the same detectable at Tabou, the legendary “”caveau”” in Saint Germain de Pres, as described by Boris Vian. It was a place where to look for and listen to records, watch the cult movies of the 50s and the 60s, and think of solutions for intellectual unrest. Fez was the perfect example of cultural decentralization “ante litteram,” far from the neuralgic center of the country, and became a reference point for artists involved in the acid jazz scene, which was particularly fashionable in London at the time. Within Fez’s creative community, Conte oversaw and guided several bands for in-studio productions of records from a wide range of influences, including 60’s soul jazz, jazz samba, 70’s jazz-funk, spiritual vibes, post-bop, and hip hop.

In 2000, his debut solo album“Jet Sounds” came out on Schema Records, bringing him at the forefront of the international music scene. Developed as an imaginary soundtrack inspired by Italian film composers (Ennio Morricone, Piero Umiliani, Piero Piccioni) and by artists such as Lalo Shifrin, Quincy Jones, and Michel Legrand, Jet Sounds is a kaleidoscopic, psychedelic musical journey where Indian raga melts with surrealist jazz and dreamy samba.

Conte’s musical direction kept evolving with “Garota Moderna” – the album he produced for the Brazilian singer Rosalia De Souza – and “New Standards,” his collaborative EP with Gianluca Petrella. These two records laid down the foundations for his “Other Directions” album that came out in 2004 on the legendary Blue Note label.
“”Other Directions”” was a significant step for Conte: he involved the very best of the Italian Jazz scene with the likes of Fabrizio Rosso, Gianluca Petrella, Pietro Lussu, Rosario Giuliani, Cristina Zavalloni, Daniele Scannapieco, Lucia Minetti, Lorenzo Tucci, Pietro Ciancaglini and international guests such as Till Bronner, Lisa Bassenge, Bembe Segue.
Sonically, the album draws influences from the 60’s European Jazz incorporating vivid rhythmical structures and an approach to songwriting where the poetic of the lyrics merge with deep-jazz influences. “Other Directions,” represents Nicola Conte’s music aesthetic from every perspective, binding soul to refined acoustic atmospheres. London Jazz Cafè, Milan Blue Note, Tokyo’s Billboard, Montreaux Jazz Festival, Jazz Open Stuttgart, Umbria Jazz are just some of the venues were the sound of “Other Directions” was presented and acclaimed, and nowadays is still considered a ‘smash hit’, proving the unique feelings that Nicola Conte and the Jazz Combo band convey through their music and live performances.”

“In 2008, Conte released “Rituals” on Emarcy/Universal Music, confirming his multifaceted talent and maturity. Recorded between 2005 and 2007, “Rituals” came with a new cosmopolitan band and a musical spectrum that expanded towards Afro- American influences and a spiritual feel. The ensemble included guests such as Till Bronner, Jose James, Chiara Civello, Timo Lassy, Fabrizio Bosso, Teppo Makynen, and Kim Sanders, among others.

In 2009, “The Modern Sound” was released as a collection of Conte’s best effort as a remixer and a state of art for the artist, with the inclusion of compositions taken from the recording sessions of the album “Rituals” and an impressive list of artists guests.

In 2011, Conte released “Love & Revolution” on Impulse! Records. On this album, he reflects on the values of society: values to recuperate, values that persisted across many generations, values sung by the youth in the late 1960s. It is precisely this cultural atmosphere that Conte refers to, both in the choice of the album’s repertoire, the arrangements by Magnum Lindgren, and with most of the lyrics written by Conte himself. Love & Revolution features a cosmopolitan ensemble of talents: singers José James (US), Nailah Porter (US), Melanie Charles (US), Gregory Porter (US), Veronica Harcsa (Hungary), Alice Ricciardi (Italy), and Bridgette Amofah (UK); trumpet players Till Brönner (Germany), Nicolas Folmer (France), Fabrizio Bosso and Flavio Boltro (Italy); trombonist Peter Fredriksson (Sweden), sax player, flutist and arranger Magnum Lindgren (Sweden), Gaetano Partipilo (Italy), Timo Lassy (Finland), Logan Richardson and Tim Warfield (US); pianist Pietro Lussu, bassist Paolo Benedettini (Italy); drummer Teppo Makynen (Finland); vibes player Michael Pinto (US); drummer Pierpaolo Bisogno (Italy).

In 2015, Conte produced “Canzoni”” for the Italian singer Chiara Civello and released on Sony Music, as well as the “Christmas Soul” album for German organ diva Barbara Dennerlein released on MPS Records.

In May 2015, Conte’s album “Free Souls” was released in Europe on Schema Records and Universal Music Japan. The album is a collection of unreleased works from recordings with Jose James, Till Broenner, and Magnus Lindgren. “Free Souls” is a pure soul album based on the early 60s’ change of direction in musical research in Jazz: a dive into deepness. During the same here, he produced the Brazilian oriented album “Natural” for the Italian singer Stefania Dipierro and released on the UK-based Far Out label.
Between 2017 and 2018, his collaborative work with acclaimed Italian trombonist Gianluca Petrella came out on two EPs via Schema Records: “African Spirits / New World Shuffle” (2017), and “Sun Song / Nigeria” (2018), connecting Detroit nu-disco and afro spiritual funk.

In 2018, Conte, with his Spiritual Galaxy ensemble, released his 8th studio album, “”Let Your Light Shine On”” on MPS Records. On this album, he intertwines soul and grooves, pulsing at Africa’s beat and breath and casting his vision of cosmic jazz into a”

“seamless tonal design, leaving full freedom to the players. “”Let your light shine on”” was recorded in Bari together with his all-star band featuring Gianluca Petrella (trombone), Magnus Lindgren (sax), Logan Richardson (sax), Teppo Mäkynen (drums), Pietro Lusso (piano), Luca Alemanno (bass) and Bridgette Amofah on vocals. Nicola toured in South Africa in November 2018 and recorded two tracks with South African jazz musicians, including Blue Note Record signing Nduduzo Makhathini and the young talented singer Zoe Modiga.

In 2020, and sixteen years after the release of “New Standards,” Nicola Conte collaborates again with his friend, colleague, and internationally renowned talent, Gianluca Petrella (Blue Note, ECM). “People Need People” is their new album to be released in 2021 on the Italian label Schema Records.