The early 60s had seen a change of direction in musical research, especially in Jazz: a turn into deepness. There was an urgent need to walk away from the research of an aesthetic dimension, in order to move towards a more intimate objective, closer to human feelings and spirituality.
“Horizontal” improvisations appeared to decrease, while “vertical” thrived: a movement directed to transcendence, God and the cosmos.
It was the time in which John Coltrane gave birth to that four-part suite which is still considered one of the 20th century masterpieces. A Love Supreme, was made up of four different moments of a monotheistic pray whilst simultaneously reciting an immortal mantra. Deep – as we would call it today; spiritual and enchanting. This mantra brought closer to Jazz a whole generation who at that time was flirting with rock’n’roll – it was not Bitches Brew, which was a high profile operation, but conveyed with a certain spurious charm.
Deepness and consciousness had roots in something changing, something that involved proud and conscious musicians who were forging a new language, which would have completely changed music. Meanwhile, Funk and Soul literally exploded, anything but different expressions of a common feeling.
If we had to find a way to situate now Free Souls, in an age in which everything has been already played, from Rebetiko to Gamelan, from Rap to Kletzmer – an era where mannerism is background music for supermarkets – those are the times we should look at.
In those times deepness enfolded a way of conceiving music, especially Afro-American music which is naturally nourished by Jazz and its derivatives.
Is Soul the right word to describe this movement? So let’s use it without hesitation, because Soul’s mood is the only one which had been capable to enrich all the sounds that accompanied us through out our days till now. Even the most mechanical Techno bars can transmit deepness when Soul is seeded within them.
Free Souls is pure Soul music when Marvin Parks’ voice softly embraces Shades of Joy melody and If I Should Lose You (a standard by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger which became famous thanks to Hank Mobley’s version); is Africa when Tasha’s World and Bridgette Amofah are surrounded by the solos of Magnus Lindgren and Timo Lassy (both playing flute on Soul Revelation and Baltimore Oriole); is classy Jazz with the exceptional phrasing of jazzmen like Gaetano Partipilo (on Goddess Of The Sea and Ode To Billie Joe), Francesco Lento (one of the most promising Jazz trumpeter of these days, on Goddess Of The Sea and Ode To Billie Joe), Timo Lassy (on Free Souls), Greg Osby (on Ahmad’s Blues), Rosario Giuliani (on If I Should Lose You), Daniele Scannapieco (on Uhuru), Logan Richardson (on Sunrise, definitely a gem), of Fabrizio Bosso (on the beautiful African Other Blues with the spoken of Marvin Parks); and jazz again with the extraordinary vocals of Josè James on Goddess of The Sea.
The groove and rhythm section had been provided by Teppo Makynen, Lorenzo Tucci, Pierpaolo Bisogno, Paolo Benedettini, Luca Alemanno, Pietro Ciancaglini and Michael Pinto, the right line-up to highlight this great project.
Noteworthy is the contribution of Melanie Charles (Spirit Of Nature, Ahmad’s Blues, Live Your Life) and Heidi Vogel (from the Cinematic Orchestra’s combo on Sandalia Dela).
The patterns of this rich artistical web constructed by Nicola Conte reveal decades of listening sessions and deep musical beliefs.
An accomplished juggler when it comes to play with styles, capable to invent modern structures, Nicola got us used to his ability to blend harmonically different musical worlds and create cooperation between great musicians. Deepness is the added value of this album, something in between consciousness and spirituality. Nothing to share with futile trends, this record is a result of an urgent need to research in the depth of the soul and musical influences. I have known Nicola for too long to not understand that all this comes from the necessity to focus on an inexhaustible will to progress and desire for self-improvement, but most of all, from an unutterable passion for this marvellous universe called music.
Nicola Gaeta – author of the book “Bam, il Jazz oggi a New York”