It’s the first record that the Italian branch of the prestigious jazz label Blue Note releases in Italy and at the same time in various countries of the world, among which France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, Japan, Mexico, brazil, Argentina, Western European countries and England (where it was 30 years since the release of a record produced by EMI Music Italy).
“Other Directions” (preceded by the single, currently on the radio, “Kind of Sunshine”), which Nicola Conte composed the music and wrote the lyrics of, is a sophisticated production inspired to the jazz era of the late Sixties and revisits in a modern key some sounds from that time.
Important musicians from the Italian jazz scene took part to the realization of the album: Gianluca Petrella (trombone), Daniele Scannapieco (tenor sax), Fabrizio Bosso (trumpet and flugelhorn), Pietro Lussu (piano), Pietro Ciancaglini (double bass), Lorenzo Tucci (drums), Nicola Stilo (flute), Pierpaolo Bisogno (bongos e vibraphone). While Cristina Zavalloni, Bembe Segue, Lucia Minetti and Lisa Bassenge took turns at singing the songs.
This latest work by Nicola Conte (in which the artist also plays guitar) is partly different from its previous ones, marked by an unmistakable mixture of jazz, bossa nova and electronic sounds that made him famous all over the world as producer and DJ and that allowed him to cooperate with bands such as Koop and Thievery Corporation.
“Other Directions” reflects a lot Nicola Conte’s love for the great figures of the past, such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans and also for the European artists of the same era, such as Kenny Clark’s band.
* * *
The album has been released in different versions and on two different occasions. The first, in 2004, saw the original release of “Other Directions” as a 2-LP set, while a single CD version had been licensed to Blue Note Records. In 2011, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Edizioni Ishtar, the music and record Company which through the Schema label has published the best productions of the modern/electronic Jazz scene, a new beautiful 2-CD version of “Other Directions” has been released. It includes an extra CD featuring the tracks previously released on vinyl, plus some unreleased ones.
Always in balance between Jazz and Bossa Nova, “Other Directions” reveals a Nicola Conte’s compositive soul bound to accomplished acoustic atmospheres. Furthermore the composer’s intention is to communicate not only through the music but through the lyrics too, showing a talented and learned songwriter. Inspired both by the beat literature (The Dharma Bums is a true homage to Jack Kerouac) and the English one (Wanin’ Moon is inspired by a Percy Shelley’s poem), also the cinema and dramaturgy influenced the composer: “Le Depart” is a reassessment of the piece written in ’67 by Krzysztof Komeda for the namesake Jerzy Skolimovsky’s movie, and “All Gone” is a homage to Joseph Losey’s “Il Servo,” a ’60s black-and-white movie directed by Harold Pinter.
Together with a line-up of Italian and international artists such as Gianluca Petrella, Daniele Scannapieco, Pietro Lussu, Lorenzo Tucci, Fabrizio Bosso, Nicola Stilo, Till Brönner, Nicola traces with great skill the sensuality of the dialogue between the winds and the piano, he beats and emphasizes its rhythms, and adds some extremely elastic voices, the most remarkable of which belongs to Cristina Zavalloni.
The bonus CD contains the unreleased “Danubian”, “Teardrop Painted Blue” and “Quiet Stars”; the cover of “Charade”, a brilliant and innovative reinterpretation of the classic by Henry Mancini; “Bohemian’s Dilemma”, “Waltz Of The Sirens” and the extended version of “Kind Of Sunshine”, all taken from the vinyl release; the alternative take of “Wanin’ Moon”, chosen by Gilles Peterson for his compilation “Worldwide Exclusive”, and a new version of “Nefertiti”, released on the Schema compilation “Freedom Jazz Dance”.
The music of “Other Directions” buds from the fascination which ’50s-’60s jazz influenced me for a certain period, thanks to musicians of the calibre of Horace Silver, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Yusef Lateef and many others. It represents the heart of my artistic choices as it is reflected in my way of feeling. My intention was to offer to this Afro-American tradition a European key of reading and I believe I have given a more romantic interpretation to those atmospheres. – Nicola Conte