Luis Conte may not be a household name, but anybody with access to music in the past thirty years has probably heard his playing. Conte has served as the percussion colorist of choice for the musical elite and, with appearances on hundreds of albums that touch on virtually every genre, from jazz to pop to film scores to Latin music and beyond, his playing has become the rhythmic undercurrent on the soundtrack of our lives. While Conte remains a first-call musician who is frequently summoned for studio sessions, touring, and television work, he managed to carve out some time to lay down the eleven songs that make up this percussive portrait.
Conte frequently works in the cracks or crevices of a song, but this music places him front and center. His creativity, virtuosity, and musical flexibility come to the forefront as he uses dozens of different instruments to achieve his artistic vision. A jam-like vibe surrounds certain performances ("En Casa De Luis" and "El Rumbero Mas Chevere"), while others have a more polished outlook, but Conte also sculpts songs that have a worldly visage. A pan-global, tropical flavored number that gives Conte a chance to cover the whole instrumental gamut, including bass, accordion, congas, and keyboards ("Conga Melody"), and the African-leaning "Eden" are two notable examples.
Stylistic continuity is ultimately less of a concern to Conte than the art of creation, whether spontaneous or premeditated, with family and friends. The Conte clan joins the leader, adding ambience to the album opener and hand claps to "Conga Melody," pianist Larry Goldings makes an appearance on his own breezy "Dance Of The Firefly," trumpeter Walt Fowler adds his own inimitable horn work to the proceedings, and bassist Jimmy Johnson makes a few appearances throughout the album. While an ever-changing cast of characters helps Conte out, guitarist Barry Coates proves to be the most important of them all. His ability to color the music and shape the overall sound of each song makes him an indispensable entity on this outing.
While Conte's own music isn't likely to garner the same size audience as that of his many high-visibility employers, that's irrelevant. En Casa De Luis lives and breathes with the uncontainable passion and curiosity of a percussion legend doing what he does best, and that's all that matters.
Track Listing: En Casa De Luis; The Last Resort; El Rumbero Mas Chevere; Water Pots; Sticks And Stones; Fever; Conga Melody; Eden; Dance Of The Firefly; There's Only Love; Mi China.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.