Pioneering Italian musician and producer Nicola Conte and esteemed trombonist Gianluca Petrella team up again for their new project’s third EP on Schema, ahead of their forthcoming full-length project due out later this year.
For those unaware, Conte and Petrella have been working together on and off since 2001’s “New Standards”. In addition to working together as musicians, the pair has fostered a close creative relationship, trading and discussing vintage gear and records in a bid to open each other up to as wide a range of influences as possible.
This most recent offering further explores the themes and sounds found on their previous collaborations, “Sun Song / Nigeria” and “African Spirits / New World Shuffle”, with its heavily West African influenced rhythms and cosmic-leaning musicality.
“Free Your Mind” is a straight-up party jam, complete with a powerful horn section, playful synth lines and powered by a rock solid Afrobeat rhythm section. “Imani River” sees the duo putting their spin on a spiraling 6/8 time signature, featuring otherworldly guest vocals from Bridgette Amofah, who also featured on the duo’s previous collaborative releases. The track offers a stark contrast to the feel good party vibes of “Free Your Mind”, taking on a somewhat spiritual demeanor, due as much to Petrella’s evocative trombone playing as to Amofah’s lofty vocals or the reeling nature of the percussion. Conte and Petrella bring the tempo up a notch or two with closing track “Infinity”, which lands somewhere between the dancefloor focused “Free Your Mind” and more headsy “Imani River”, allowing the listener to get equally as lost in the song’s driving groove as the intergalactic sound-palette that floats on top of it.