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Paolo Conte

Biography

A beloved elder statesman in Continental Europe, Paolo Conte is best known to American audiences for his live version of "Via Con Me." As a boy growing up in the Northern Italian city of Asti, Paolo Conte discovered swing and gypsy jazz and never looked back. After spending years dividing his time between practicing law and working in jazz nightclubs (Conte is a solid mainstream vibes and piano player), Conte slowly started adding elements of the darker and more bitingly ironic Italian and French popular song to a swing foundation. He first made it big as a songwriter for major vocal stars such as Shirley Bassey and Johnny Hallyday, but his viewpoint was so unique that he was given the opportunity to record his own narratives in 1974 and a crusty, grizzled star was born. Everything about Paolo Conte went against the grain of modern pop – he usually employs acoustic instrumentation, and his narrative lyrics often shoot the scenes of every day life through the lense of cinema. This ultra-cool musical universe is old-world in charm and inclanation without being sacharine (very comparible to early Tom Waits). Through the years, Conte's audience has only continued to grow around the world and though he is particularly big in Italy and France, like Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen, he is the rare artist in popular music that is respected by crusty seniors and young indie fans alike. Conte is part of a vanishing breed who still has a solid command of an Astian dialect that combines Italian, French, and distinct regional elements into a very pleasing whole. This dialect is well served on "Via Con Me," which also showcases Conte's love of venerable American slang terms and jazz traditions.
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