September 2, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Nicola Conte

From the moment I saw the Vespa spread across the cover of the US release of Nicola Conte's first album Bossa Per Due (aka Jet Sounds everywhere else)I knew I was going to love this album.

Nicola Conte is an Italian born, classically trained musician and DJ, who heads up his own acid jazz collective of suave jazz lovin' hipsters known as The Fez Collective. He is undoubtedly a product of Les Baxter, incorporating a very loungy, exotic feeling into his early work especially, but still evident at times in his latest releases.

The man is full of attitude and style, with the music to back it up. Conte's sound swaggers where others' stagger, it soars on the wings of cool, otherly sorts of sounds from Indian music, bossa nova, and straight ahead jazz. Take the title track to his debut album, "Bossa Per Due". It's a five minute journey through some serious jazz, dotted along the way with alluring and sexy vocals, Indian vibes, and an easy-listening sixties styled organ work that any mod couldn't help but love. And then there's the late-nite, Baxteresque "Fuoco Fatuo", the exotic jazz of "Missione A Bombay", and the swingin', Wanderly-like, sixties go-go jazz of "Jet Sounds".

His next release, 2004's Other Directions sort of did just that, it went in other directions, though none that were too surprising. In some ways it was jazzier, but it also included more vocals, while the exotica feel of the past sort of retreated to the background. 2008's Rituals continued Conte's love affair with exotic jazz, but included even more vocals, notably the stunningly luscious coices of Kim Sanders and Jose James, giving the whole release a more jazz club feel than earlier works. The second song below, "Song for the Seasons", is from that album.

Nicola Conte -- La Coda Del Diavolo

Nicola Conte -- Song For The Seasons

Nicola Conte - LIke Leaves In The Wind