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Nicola Conte: Free Souls

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Italian producer and guitarist Nicola Conte first gained recognition for his cunning re-imaginings of acid jazz via influences from bossa nova, classic Italian film scores and Indian music. More recently, he’s focused solely on Latin jazz. With Free Souls he takes another left turn, constructing a brilliantly complex soul-jazz sound with Latin, African and Afro-Cuban inflections.

Conte’s core group is mostly Italian (Swedish saxophonist Magnus Lindgren the obvious exception), as are the majority of his guests (save American saxophonists Greg Osby and Logan Richardson). But Free Souls is truly a global affair. Six exceptional vocalists weave in and out of his ever-shifting tapestry, including dynamic young Haitian-American Melanie Charles, British-Ghanaian Bridgette Amofah (a powerful mix of Shirley Bassey and Aretha Franklin), the Netherlands’ eminently cool Natasha Tusk (a.k.a. Tasha’s World), Brits Marvin Parks and Heidi Vogel and American José James.

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