TO THE BRINK! – Pinnacle Records. Released in 2004. Website: www.Pinnaclerecords.com To The Brink, Anticipation, Pork Loin! Here’s That Rainy Day, So To Speak, Pit Stop, Our Love is Here To Stay, Mister Twister’s Fanfare, The Hooker! (Total Time -59:40 ) PERSONNEL: Robert Conti, Guitar; Rocco Barbato, Saxophone; Billy Moran, Hammond B3; Aldo Bentivegna, Drums
By Bob Miles for Jazz Improv Magazine
Robert Conti has been a name notorious in the guitar world for years. Robert is known among guitarists as a very prolific composer, clinician, and educator. Robert’s credits include a series of instructional DVDs/videos and books much sought after by any serious guitarist. Robert has, blazing chops combined with musical taste.
To The Brink! Robert starts this original composition with an incredible fire. The composition is appropriately tiled with all the energy of taking great musical abilityto the brink. Robert shines with a diverse and interestingly array of technique. The head is played with guitar and sax. Robert starts off his solo in a blistering array of chops and doesn t let up until he releases it to Rocco Barbato who then takes the be-bop lines that Robert threw out and continues with a very soulful solo. Billy Moran follows with a wonderful and soulful organ burning solo as well. Of course, Aldo Bentivegna follows with incredible chops and an interesting drum solo that would make any drummer stand up and listen. Robert and Rocco trade off of each other for several choruses. It seems that neither is at a loss for ideas and each spurs the other on to take chances.
Anticipation, This Mark Stefani penned composition is a bossa nova that is tasteful and well executed by Conti and his band mates. Again, Rocco Barbato tastefully weaves a beautiful solo, but now on the soprano saxophone. The sound is one that is well suited for this Latin number. Robert plays a solo reminiscent of Pat Martino type feel. There are some very funky moments throughout ala George Benson as well. Robert blows through with a quite impressive array of double stops to push the solo forward. All said and done, very impressive. Pork Loin! This original Robert Conti selection is a blues that swings hard and funky. Robert chooses to incorporate a beautifully mastered use of impressive funky style techniques that reminded me of Howard Roberts on the Goodies album. Robert also effectively uses tri-tones double stops as he comps very nicely behind Rocco and Billy’s solos. I have to say that Robert s sensitivity and feel are evident as a true blues man. The feel is an extremely relaxed feel. Here s That Rainy Day, Robert takes this well know standard and does a beautiful rubato solo melody and chord up until the rhythm section joins him for this very pretty ballad. The harmonic choices are especially unique especially in the lower register of the guitar. Again, Robert sensitivity comes through in a very relaxed and calm way. So To Speak, This is another one of the brilliant Mark Stefan s compositions. This has a Henry Mancini type theme that has a haunting melody. Robert delves right in with all the confidence of a true master. The use of Robert s whole-tone lines is very effective and appropriate for this tune. Rocco again delivers a soulful solo with Billy s first class organ solo pumping up the fever for more inspired soulful type licks. A very serene and relaxed song.
Pit Stop, Robert shows his strong blues background on this original Conti composition. Many jazz guitarists approach the blues from strictly a jazz upbringing. The problem with this is that they miss that authentic blues development in their feel and soul. Not Robert, Robert obviously has spent quite a bit of time in this arena. The blue lines certainly are those of a seasoned blues player playing over the blues. The funk double stops are very tasteful as well.
Our Love is Here To Stay, Robert takes a slow rubato approach to the head with his strong use of harmony, bass lines and wicked technique to open up to this beautiful rendition of this Gershwin standard. Robert swings hard to a back-up of brushes and organ stops. Robert s technique is relentless. Robert s knowledge of chordal arranging and single line playing during this song and all of the CD shows that he is a master jazz guitarist.
Mister Twister’s Fanfare, Another of Robert s original compositions on this CD, Mister Twister’s Fanfare again shows Robert s talents as a composer with interesting melodies and nicely placed harmonies against an slamming back beat. Again, Robert pulls out all the stops. I believe that this is a showcase for Robert s soulfulness and amazing chops. Robert s command and I do mean command of the guitar is very impressive. The Hooker! Again Robert takes this original Conti composition to a very high level. Very wonderful listening.
Overall, Robert Conti s Cd, To The Brink does just that. Robert and his band mates take you on a fabulous and soulful ride to the brink. Robert is funky, dirty and a mean street player. This CD is well worth adding to anyone’s collection of great jazz guitarists. Robert Conti is just incredible!!