If I could get a wish granted, I’d love to hang out with Nicola Conte, or at the very least, get him to DJ my party. He’s from Bari, Italy on the coast of the Adriatic. He’s been a leading figure in the Italian music scene for decades, producing acid jazz, electronica, and jazz groups. He is a DJ, a voracious collector of vintage vinyl, a man invited into the vaults of Prestige, Verve, MPS, Blue Note, and other labels to compile collections of rare tracks. His musical tastes fold into and out of Afro-centric jazz, 60s soundtracks, dance grooves, and Bossa Nova. He surrounds himself with exceptional European musicians and recruits well-known and lesser-known vocalists to help create his unique fusion. He was among the first to record and introduce vocalists Jose James and Gregory Porter to wider audiences.

As described in an essay on the All About Jazz website, Nicola Conte lead a cultural movement in Italy, based out of his then club, Fez. Surrounded by long-time friends who shared the same intellectual, musical and political sensibilities, he and they were “trouble-makers, emotional dreams, jazz enthusiasts of the fifties and sixties.” He created bands in the acid jazz vein, produced others like Koop and the Thievery Corporation, and drew from every available corner to create new sounds deeply rooted in both the past and the future.

Guitarist, composer, producer, and remixer, the sound of Conte’s music makes the familiar strange and beautiful. His innate sense of swing coupled with infectious beats is equally at home on the car stereo driving up the sunlit Amalfi coast or on the dance floor in Berlin. No wonder I want him DJ’ing my party. However, I’ll have to settle for doing it myself.

Tune in on Sunday, June 19 at 7 pm when The Jazz River lets Nicola Conte take the wheel. Only on KUVO JAZZ.

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