To comprehend fully Nicola Conte's music originality and sensibility we should refer, together with his productions, to the unavoidable Fez's activity, a cultural movement founded by Conte himself in Bari in the early nineties. A real melting pot of several creative musicians, who first of all are friends and grew up together with the same intellectual, music and political similarities. Cultural trouble-makers, emotional dreamers, Jazz enthusiasts of the fifties and sixties, deep "nouvelle vague" connoisseurs, compulsive vinyl collectors, design and graphic experts, people crazy for cultural beat and books written by revolutionaries like Jean Paul Sartre and Boris Vian.
The atmosphere at Fez seemed to be the same detectable at Tabou, the legendary "caveau" in Saint Germain de Pres, described by Vian himself. It is place where it was possible to listen to records, watch cult movies of those two decades ('50s and '60s) and look for solutions to the intellectual uncomfortableness.
Today, some years later, one of the strongest expressions highlighted at Fez is still that of the music.
In that period Fez became the reference point for the artists involved in the acid Jazz scene, really fashionable in London; Nicola Conte is considered the irreplaceable link with our country: he brings artists already famous abroad but still unknown in the Italian clubs. Sociologically in the past we would have defined Fez a perfect example of cultural decentralization "ante litteram," far from the neuralgic centre of the country.
Through Nicola Conte's efforts Fez started to be recognized as a cultural movement for all practical purposes. Then he decided to direct his ideas on the music productions: he began collaborating as a remixer at Schema Records and he created bands like Paolo Achenza Trio, QuintettoX, Fez Combo, Intensive Jazz Sextet and Balanço. Their works well underline Nicola's love for global Jazz and reveals his other great passions to us, like the soundtracks—especially the old Italian productions by Piero Piccioni e Ennio Morricone—and the Brazilian genre Bossa Nova.
The three different styles strongly connected—Jazz, soundtracks and Bossa Nova—are well expressed in the nineties productions and strictly bounded to the afro roots which generated bands like Jazz Convention, Quartetto Moderno, Rosario Giuliani Quartet, Schema Sextet. Among those artists adhere to Nicola's ideas and always active in these bands we mention Fabrizio Bosso, Gianluca Petrella, Lorenzo Tucci, Gaetano Partipilo, Pietro Lussu, Rosario Giuliani.
Nicola in '99 decided to produce his entry record, Jet Sounds, released in 2000. "Jet Sounds" is an elegant fusion among typical Italian sonorities, connected to the cinema and influenced by Jazz, Bossa Nova and psychedelic music. After this record Nicola continued working both as a producer and as a DJ in various worldwide clubs. In the meantime he started making himself noticed as a composer and musician. The single "New Standards" is the real turning-point: released in 2001 and composed in collaboration with the trombonist Gianluca Petrella, this work represents a real watershed between his past and future.