Torino, September 22, 2012
After Paolo Conte’s concert (yesterday) I’m still a little puzzled about this charismatic man. His sonorous parlando voice that is so well known, hasn’t aged though
he is in his 70s now. Never old, even juvenile but always with that dark sided maturation.
spirit of someone that looks for investigating himself
In the early 70s he first
started to be seen. A painter and a poet, young and inspired by his brother Giorgio Conte, who still is a musician, apparently more Guitar based and a little less grave in style but with a similar sound of voice.
As usual when an artist walks a
career for this long, one easily starts to wonder what keeps him alive and on the road. Lorenzo Kruger, front man of Nobraino, a contemporary Italian Rock icon, once asked Conte how he still could be so inspired after singing for so long. The
Master simply answered:
“I maintain a spirit of someone that looks for investigating himself” and “I carry on just because I’m passionate”. Thanks to a true and everlasting audience, educated people unsensitive to
the short term swings of fashion. In his own words: “People who understand the quality of silence, more than the quality of applause”.
Yesterday I saw plenty of elderly people around me but also youngsters had found their way to Conte’s
concert. After the concert, I noticed he is a vivid speaker, no more doubt about that. When I asked him about his background as a lawyer and his Laureate honoris causa @ the Macerata Faculty of Philosophy and Modern Literature (2004), I heard a same
kind of passion in his words as when our chat was about jazz. Some other publicists that were gathered around him, posed questions too, of course. Some at the same time so I know my chances to speak to him wouldn’t last that long...
Capacity to reinvent his own music through those decades
His work is not too hard to translate, but it’s pensive and sometimes deep. “Parigi” is a good example of a melancholic
song that - in a certain way - pulls you into an old movie. Conte’s cross over to Jazz and French Chanson caused him to become a musician of merit, also far outside of Italy. Without becoming a slave of modern commerce, the artist
has proved to be able to change throughout his decades of singing. At an earlier occasion, a concert a couple of years ago, I noticed that his top 40 Hit “Aguaplano” had been redressed into an acid symphonic jazz piece. By the
way, a newer version of this song is also available at Youtube if you would be anxious to hear.
Yesterday night in Teatro Regio, as well as on previous concerts I’ve seen, Conte didn’t shy away from dynamics and fast up tempo’s. Meanwhile
I remembered his comment in his interview with Kruger, when he characterized his own repertory as “afettuoso” and “dolce”. Let’s say distinguished and sweet. He wouldn’t desire to be a rock star like Zuccharo Fornaciari
or Kruger himself, although he sais to admire his energy. Well, speaking about energy: there was plenty of it during yesterday’s concert. One of the highlights of course: “Max” a song that makes me long for my 80s journeys in the Mediterranean.
Such a classic appeared good enough to stir middle to elderly generations. A younger girl told me after the concert that she was surprised by the music. “My friend invited me to come with her. I didn’t really know what to expect”.
I just could answer: “Well... me, I did expect something but still I’m amazed’
Keith Lane Chester