A joint venture between Schema Records and the U.S. based Emarcy label, and distributed by Decca Records U.S. here in NYC, Rituals introduces the U.S. market to Italy’s guitarist Nicola Conte. Conte’s bag combines big band jazz fusion with horns and winds ablaze while always featuring some gifted vocalists. Back in Europa, Conte had a couple of critically acclaimed releases. On Rituals, his sound features a kind Flora Purim meets Sade style vocal sound with the spotlight on female singers Chiara Civello and Alice Ricciardi. A cover of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” gives a good idea of Conte’s writing and arranging influences. Although he plays guitar throughout the album, only a few tracks spotlight guitar and obviously the music is really more geared around Conte’s orchestral / tropical / Nu Jazz big band vision. With so many singers, trumpets, trombones, alto and baritone sax and flute on hand it’s sure hard to get that guitar in! Even writing the lyrics for the quartet of singers here, on Rituals Conte exudes a rare aura of compositional confidence and musical vision.


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