Nicola Conte - Let Your Light Shine On
The Italian guitarist and bandleader Nicola Conte has recorded his first album for the legendary, recently re-established MPS records. Conte has brought with him his cosmic-cosmopolitan ensemble of stars which includes trumpeter Theo Croker, saxophonists Logan Richardson and Magnus Lindgren, and singer Zara McFarlane. For the most part recorded in Bari, Italy and Johannesburg, South Africa, it is a sensitive work of art that crosses the border between soul and spiritual Afro-jazz.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 the 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."
The foundation of "Let Your Light Shine On" is Conte's live band, Spiritual Galaxy. Conte plays guitar and is accompanied by such top international stars as trombonist Gianluca Petrella, who has been awarded "Best Emerging Artist" by the prestigious DownBeat jazz magazine, Swedish tenor saxophonist Magnus Lindgren, and Finnish drummer Teppo Mäkynen. They meet up with pianist Petro Lusso, bassist Luca Alemanno, and singer Bridgette Amofah. The band also includes two up-and-coming stars of the younger generation of jazz musicians from the USA, players who don't shy away from Hip Hop, R&B, and electronic music – alto saxophonist Logan Richardson and trumpeter Theo Croker.
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Born in 1964, Conte formed the artist collective Fez in the early '90's in his native city of Bari, produced jazz and modern electronic-oriented Bossa Nova, and recorded film music. Conte's eighth album conveys his interest in spiritual deceleration ("We should not be hemmed in by materialism. We need new perspectives!"). At the same time, his music has a political slant.
"I'm interested in the Afrocentric approach that such artists as John Coltrane, and such labels as Strata-East carried forward in the sixties and seventies," this obsessed record collector enthused. "People dealt with the problems of that time. This may well have greater relevance today than ever before – many problems have only gotten worse."