Paolo Conte

Paris Milonga

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By the time of his fourth album, Paris Milonga, Paolo Conte had perfectly defined his musical vision and stage persona, a mixture of weary seen-it-all cabaret piano player, humorous portraitist, and late-night philosopher. Alone at his piano or backed up by a small jazz ensemble, through melancholic ballads, stomping boogies, or sensual Latin rhythms, Conte goes over his usual repertoire of tired, slow burning, middle-age affairs and musings on the life of nightclub musicians and regulars. Conte is in spectacular form in Paris Milonga, a record that features at least four of his classics: "Alle Prese con una Verde Milonga," an homage to both anonymous musicians and to legendary Argentinean composer Atahualpa Yupanqui; "Parigi," that does for Paris what "Genova per Noi" did for Genoa; "Via con Me," arguably Conte's most famous song, soon adopted by Roberto Benigni for his standup comedy show, and "Boogie," a catalog of nightclub types and mating rituals that implausibly manages to be both hilarious and sexy. It matters little that, for instance, "Boogie" and "Via con Me" are essentially the same song with somewhat different lyrics. Conte's eye has seldom been this funny and poetic at the same time. He can do no wrong in Paris Milonga, as he sits back against his familiar jazzy grooves and delivers one memorable line after another (such as "I was looking for a woman and I found myself a comic opera"), in his ineffable detached style. A great album and a terrific introduction to one of Italy's best loved and most unique performers.

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