The Sophisticated World of Schema Records

Jakob Baekgaard By

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Mario Biondi is another noteworthy singer on Schema. His album Handful of Soul kicks off with "A Child Runs Free," a groovy, modern bossa nova with rich percussive flavors. The spirit of Brazil lingers on "Rio De Janeiro Blue" where Biondi sings about a lover that is leaving: "I got a feeling I've seen the last of you / Rio De Janeiro Blues." While Biondi is certainly fond of Latin music, bossa nova and blue note jazz, he is also a soul and blues man at heart with more than a handful of soul. His deep, smoky voice is reminiscent of Chris Rea, but Biondi is also an elegant crooner who understands how to sculpt his vocal in many different directions. It is no wonder that the album has been a success. Biondi is born to sing. On the title track, he sings: "If you have to ask / you really don't know what soul is." Suffice it to say Biondi does not have to ask.

Alessandro Magnanini
Someway Still I Do

Part of the success of Biondi's Handful of Soul is due to the high quality of his collaborators. One of the most prominent is the guitarist, producer and composer Alessandro Magnanini who wrote the songs "No Mercy For Me" and the hit "This Is What You Are" with Biondi. Someway Still I Do finds Magnanini sculpting his own ambitious album, but he enlists some highly talented guest stars, among them Rosalia De Souza, who lends her voice to the bossa nova ballad "L'Estate E' Qua." However, De Souza is not the only female guest musician on the album. Stefania Rava, Renata Tosi and Jenny B all add variation with their beautiful voices.

Especially Jenny B brings a lot of power with her rich Shirley Bassey-like vocal on the opener "Open Up Your Eyes" that could have been taken straight out of James Bond movie, with its swirling strings, bursting choir and brass. There is also room for a male vocalist and Liam McKahey's suave crooning is the perfect match for the Burt Bacharach-influenced composition "Livin' My life." Magnanini does not settle for less than perfection and his compositions merge the harmonic sophistication of jazz with an ear for precious pop melodies and orchestral grandeur.

Gerardo Frisina
Join the Dance

Gerardo Frisina is yet another master producer who has been involved with many releases on Schema. His album Join the Dance is an homage to jazz as an art form and a swinging affair. Frisina has a soft spot for groovy Latin jazz and this comes across on "Titoro" with bongos and vibes, but there is also an exploration of an oriental aesthetic on "Mille E Una Notta," which conjures the enchanting universe of One Thousand and One Nights. The highlight, however, is the waltz "Will You Walk A Little Faster?" where Norma Winstone lends her unique voice and starts out with some virtuosic scatting. She clearly enjoys herself and contributes to an atmosphere that is all about the joy of rhythm and swinging melodies. It is hard to resist this invitation to a dance.

Nicola Conte
Other Directions

If there is one name that is synonymous with the successful and stylish sound of Schema, it must be guitarist, DJ and producer Nicola Conte. Conte has been a key factor in shaping the aesthetic of the label as a producer and musician and Other Directions is his masterpiece. The album was originally licensed to Blue Note in 2004, but has been released as a two-disc edition on Schema. The sounds on it are simply luxurious. Conte embraces Chet Baker-like balladry on "Sea and Sand" with trumpeter and singer Till Bronner and deep groove Latin jazz with female vocals on "Kind of Sunshine." He knows the tradition of jazz by heart and creates irresistible musical confections that draw on bossa nova, swing, bop, blues, Latin music and soul. Here, he proves that it is possible to re-introduce jazz into the fancy nightclubs that normally stick to electronic lounge music, but it is also an album with depth and it includes literary references to Jack Kerouac and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Conte himself is a cool musical poet.

Nicola Conte
Free Souls

Nicola Conte is still a vital part of Schema's story and Free Souls underlines his status as one of the label's most important artists. However, Conte is not a star who likes to bask alone in the spotlight. He has a collaborative nature and this is emphasized by the long list of guests on the album. Trumpeter and singer Till Brönner once again stops by to salute multi-instrumentalist and composer Yusef Lateef on "Prayer for Lateef." Marvin Parks' sweet, soulful voice is another asset to the album. He masters all styles from the smooth groove of the opener "Shades of Joy" to the modern bossa nova "If I Should Lose You" and the slow blues "African Other Blues." Songstress Bridget Amofah takes things in a soul-jazz direction on the title track and "Ode to Billie Joe" while Hoagy Carmichael's string-laden ballad "Baltimore Oriole" gets a groovy Latin reading. Parks and Amofah are just some of the free souls playing on this record, which has been brewing for quite some time. Recordings began in 2006 and in 2014 the final product was released. With its sense of jazz history and encyclopedic mix of genres, the album is almost like a miniature-portrait of Schema. A label that likes to move to the groove and chill with sophistication.

Tracks and Personnel

Indefinita Atmosfera

Tracks: Original Untitled; In Viaggio; Cosmic Funk; G-Bossa; Na Bahia; Quite Enough; Indian Diary; Indefinita Atmosfera; blusamba; Routage.

Personnel: Gianni Bedori flute: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Luigi Bonafede: Fender Rhodes, piano, keyboards; Aldo Mella: electric bass; Enzo Zirilli: drums; Gilson Silveira: percussion; Adolfo Laraya Sousa percussion on "Indian Diary"; Barbara Casini voice on "Na Bahia," "G-Bossa," "Original Untitled"; Rhonda Moore voice on "Quite Enough"; Kate Jenkin voice on " Indefinita Atmosfera."


Tracks: More; Bossa Memorandum; Coctail Con Laura; Cuori Solitari; The Bachelor Waltz; A Man and a Woman; Un Posto Per Me; Intrigo A Francoforte; Mrs Beat; The Girl from Montenegro; A Day in the Life of a Fool: Dreamflight; Nessun Dolere; Metti Una Sera A Cena (Fez Remix); Metti Una Sera A Cena (Jazzanova Remix).

Personnel: Davide Penta: Fender bass, arrangements; Alessandro Piscitelli: Bongos, Percussion; Michele Di Monte: drums; Guido De Leone: guitar; Mariella Carbonara: lead vocals; Pippo Lombardo: Piano, Organ, Harpsichord, Keyboards; Fabrizio Bosso: Trumpet, Flugelhorn; G. Lombardo: arrangements; Nicola Conte: arrangements.

Act On

Tracks: Blue Grassland; The Aftermath of Love; Essential Spices; Kickin' Samba; Inspired by Antonio Carlos; Mutantes; Grasping; Court Intrigues; Act On; Riding the Mambo; Mainstream.

Personnel: Enzo Lo Greco: acoustic & electric bass, flute, guitars, keyboards, programming; Gianni Lo Greco: drums & percussion; Giulio Visibelli: flutes; Fabrizio Bernosconi: Fender Rhodes; Massimo Colombo: Fender Rhodes; Antonella Mazza: bass, vocals.

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