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'Love and Revolution' - Nicola Conte [album review] 

 Written by Imran Mirza

Arguably the most prolific artist I can think of, Italian guitarist and producer, Nicola Conte stamps his name on to 2011 with his brand new release, ‘Love and Revolution’ on Impulse Records (interestingly not released through his own Schema Records, however, as his Blue Note Records release, ‘Other Directions’, demonstrates, he’s certainly partial to collaborating with outside labels).

Although the themes of this release are fairly obviously spelt out in the title, thinking about it, ‘Love’ and ‘Revolution’ are probably themes that have played a consistent part in much of Nicola Conte’s ever expanding catalogue.  And it really is ever expanding.  In the past eleven years, since ‘Jet Sounds’ was bestowed upon us, Conte has amassed a discography including four solo studio albums, which don’t include the remix albums, deluxe reissues and compilations, nor mentioning the long list of outside collaborations and remixes that seem to surface on a daily basis.  Where he finds time to do anything else is beyond me?!

‘Love and Revolution’ sources Conte’s typically glorious cocktail of bossa mixed with contemporary and classic jazz stylings, but this time there’s a more-than-welcome dash of 70s soul thrown in, all making the perfect inimitable blend for a quality summer soundtrack.  Guests abound on this one too as Gregory Porter (whose excellent opener, ‘Do You Feel Like I Feel’, is a close show-stealer), Jose James (who appears on three tracks: bliss!) and Nailah Porter take up vocal duties, and guest musicians include saxophonists, Timo Lassy and Magnus Lindgren, trumpeters Till Bronner and Fabrizio Bosso, bassist Paolo Benedettini, and pianist Pietro Lussu.

I mentioned ‘Do You Feel Like I Feel’ as a gleaming highlight, on an album where there are many, including the Roy Ayers reworking of ‘Light Of The Sun’ (featuring the aforementioned James and (N)Porter), but in honesty, each probably queue behind the incredible title track, as sang by Melanie Charles, which is a rousing and uplifting number that’s impossible not to leave you humming blissfully for the rest of your day.  As with any Conte album, there are few issues to complain about, but in this case, the exception would have to be ‘Bantu’ which, as good as it is, just seems somewhat out of place.  Its thumping, almost dance/house-like nature boasts of Conte’s versatility, but just doesn’t really fit within the album’s overall tone here (and perhaps would have been better placed amongst the second disc of the deluxe edition(?)).

I’m biting my knuckles as I type this to suppress my possible over-excitement as I mumble the words: “… his best album yet!?”.  Time is always the best judge of these things though but it does add further weight to the argument that Conte couldn’t make a bad song if he tried, let alone a bad album.

Oh yes, before I forget - if you haven't read my previous blog entry on Nicola Conte, you might find it worth the read.

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