Nicola Conte – Other Directions

So the economy is in the shitter now….so, now on to the program of awesome music you should own with very little financial risk.  Music like Nicola Conte’s 2004 effort, “Other Directions.”

Some of you may remember Conte from his first album, 2000’s “Jet Sounds,” that firmly planted his flag on the mountain of the electro jazz movement. With it’s lead single “Bossa Per Due” getting play from people like Thievery Corp and Gilles Peterson, and appearing in commercials as well,  the album proved a huge international success.

Born in Bari, Italy, Conte was trained as a classical guitarist when he began DJing and producing.  Sharing a love of Bossa Nova, Italian and French Jazz, as well as the Acid Jazz scene, Conte and his like minded friends formed a group called “The Fez Collective” and a label called Schema. (you’ll find more on that in my post about Gerardo Frisina HERE) As Producer he has helped cull the careers of such acts as Paolo Achenza Trio, Rosalia De Souza and a slew of funky remix jobs that I can’t even begin to list here. As a DJ he, like a lot of DJs, has a love of all things old and awesome…which brings us to “Other Directions.”

After “Jet Sounds,” Conte could have followed the same formula and still seen success. I think a lot of people bought “Other Directions” expecting just that…but as a musician and DJ, he felt the compulsion to go back to the past and bring it into the future…and the listener gets to reap the rewards. Released by the mighty Blue Note label “Other Directions” is a 1960’s fusion album, released in the 2000’s.  Backed by a full jazz band and playing guitar, Conte weaves a jazzy tapestry that borrows heavily from the past but still incorportaes  little glimpses of the future. My favorite track, ‘Kind of Sunshine’ (hear it up top) takes the old time song ‘You Are My Sunshine’ on a jazzy ride that you have to hear to believe.  What stands out, aside from the stellar production and the almost House-y beat…is the sound.

That incredibly stylish sound.

I love jazz, but I mostly love old jazz because the stuff that comes out today sounds over produced and a little too safe for me.  Nicola’s work here sounds almost as if it was plucked from the dusty record shelves yesterday and the warmth of the sound is undeniable. I listened to this album on a loop at work until my cube-mates forced me to stop. I wish I had ten albums like this.

If you like a stylish retro vibe as much as you like your downtempo jazz, you really will piss yourself over this album…but in a good way.

Apparently it is out of print and regularly goes for around $35 these days.

I say fuck that shit.


2 Responses to “Nicola Conte – Other Directions”

  1. June 28, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Great review, thanks! I’ve had “Rituals” on a loop for the past year or so – just great great stuff. “Like Leaves in the Wind” kills me every time. “The Modern Sound of” also has so much to love, even if it doesn’t flow as well as an album. I’m picking up “Other Directions” right now based on your review and the samples here.

    I may be the guy who is writing the Windham Hill Discography, but my first love is classic Blue Note jazz, and I feel similarly to you that Conte really gets it right with one foot planted in each century. I think the Five Corners Quintet does a good job at this as well. Thanks again.

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