Paolo Conte

Paolo Conte (Sparring Partner)

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Paolo Conte appears on the cover of his sixth overall, and third eponymous, album striking a pose, microphone in hand, during a performance. Appropriately, this is about the time that the great Italian barroom poet started to become an international celebrity (at least in Europe), mostly thanks to his impeccable showman credentials. A more subdued version of its predecessor, Appunti di Viaggio, this record is a mature, solid collection of sinuous piano-driven jazzy tunes. This is perhaps best exemplified by the seemingly ubiquitous scat intros and interludes, such as those of the opener "Sparring Partner" and Come-di, two of the strongest tracks. Conte's lyrics are characteristically rambling, but here and there offer some nuggets of weary late-night wisdom, particularly in the autobiographical "Sotto le Stelle del Jazz," when a bemused singer ponders: "all the women hated jazz, go figure." There is also a greater use of synthesizer sounds than before (this was virtually inescapable in the middle of the '80s), with not entirely fortunate results: check how "Simpati-Simpatia" and "Gli Impermeabili" (set to an electronic techno disco beat!) unfavorably contrast with the rest of material. This album also marks the beginning of Conte's collaboration with several musicians who would play a key role in subsequent recordings and tours, such as arranger Renzo Fantini, bassist Ares Tavolazzi, and drummer Ellade Bandini.

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