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2008 album from the Italian DJ/producer. Rituals is a groove-heavy collection of Bossa Nova, Jazz and more with (mostly) live instrumentation. Includes musical assistance from Timo Lassy (sax and flute), Fabrizio Bosso and Till Bronner (trumpets) and Pietro Lussu (piano). Guest vocalists include Alice Ricciardi, Jose James, Chiara Civello, and Kim Sanders. Emarcy.
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Featuring mostly live instruments, Nicola Conte is joined by a multitude of players that include Timo Lassy on sax and flute, Fabrizio Bosso and Till Brönner on trumpets, Pietro Lussu on piano. Vocals are by Alice Ricciardi, José James, Chiara Civello, and Kim Sanders. The whole thing is just so classy.
The style (though not the vocal) resembles Mario Biondi's wonderful Handful of Soul from a couple years back especially on Ellington's "Caravan" and the Eastern vibe of "The Nubian Queens", the latter featuring José James and standout solos by Timo Lassy. Nicola Conte knows "his" jazz and he has written or co-written all the tracks here except two and in an outstanding fashion.
As usual, echoes of bossa and modal jazz form the backbone, with an emphasis on the groove.
The album starts with a modal-like "Karma Flower" with lead vocals by Chiara Civello but it's Diane Peters who steels the show with her heavenly harp. The Civello/Peters combination team up again on the soft samba of "Paper Clouds" and again more Peters on the title track and the magnificent "Black Is The Graceful Veil" (that also features Osby and the vibraphone of Michael Pinto - who doubles as the bongo player on the album- and the beautiful vocals of Kim Sanders).
Kim Sanders is the vocalist also on the laid back "Red Sun" and on the upliftingly beautiful "Black Is The Graceful Veil".
Another excellent vocalist from Italy, Alice Ricciardi takes the lead vocals on the swinging "I See All Shades Of You" and on the delectable "Songs Of The Seasons", with more vibes and Osby on sax.
As for José James, "The Nubian Queens", "Like Leaves In The Wind" and "Awakenings" are very Gilles Peterson/Schema jazz room friendly, particularly the first two as pacey groovers. He is often mentioned in the same breath as legend Mark Murphy and it is so true when you listen to performances.
By coincidence, Till Brönner (who was on Mark Murphy's Love Is What Stays of a couple of years ago) turns up on "Like Leaves In The Wind", which shocases great trombone playing by Gianluca Petrella.
The two cover versions, the evergreen Ellington's "Caravan" with Peter Weiss on lead vocals, and the 7 minutes (!) instrumental take of Dusko Gojkovich's "Macedonia" are nothing short of fantastic.
A bit too easy on the ears for the hardcore jazzers, but this is the best nu jazz record currently available on the market!
A true delight.
Last Quarter Moon