Camera Soul Explores Full Breadth of Human Relationships on New Release, "Connections" (2017)

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The fourth studio album from Italy's jazz-funk supergroup delves into the intricacies of human interaction of all kinds and pays deep stylistic tribute to the late Maurice White.

2016 proved to be another explosive year of growth for Italian jazz-funk supergroup CAMERA SOUL, which kicked off with the band's debut at the internationally-famous Umbria Winter Jazz Fest #23 in Orvieto, Italy, in the province that shares its name -- and in the same mountainous province which this past summer would experience mass devastation thanks to several major earthquakes.

The festival, which showcased Camera Soul alongside jazz greats such as Kurt Elling and Big Band, as well as Portland-based neo-soul star Jarrod Lawson and The Good People, ended on January 3, 2016. Once complete, the group headed into the studio to begin recording its fourth studio album, "Connections" (Azzurra Music), set to release worldwide on both CD and digital versions on January 25, 2017.

With each effort since 2011, the group's leaders, composer-brothers Piero and Pippo Lombardo, strive to raise both the musical and story bar. With "Connections", their longest and most robust album to date, Camera Soul offers 18 tracks that feature five instrumental interludes and thirteen full-length songs, all in deep tribute and memory of one of the composers' unquestioningly pervasive influences: producer, musician, and co-founder of Earth, Wind and Fire, Mr. Maurice White, whom the world lost this past year.

In addition to honoring Mr. White, the Brothers Lombardo chose the album's title and theme, "Connections", to be a continuous story arc of human interaction that reaches into every track and delves into the various ways that we affect each other daily.

For example, on dance anthem, "Help Yourself", lead vocalist Maria Enrica Lotesoriere encourages her mate to 'Help yourself to find your happiness', as she refuses to be the sole source of it. "Black Cat", a darkly funky trip, evokes a Stevie Wonder-esque mood of people bowing to old superstitions - "A black cat / Under the ladder ... / A broken mirror / On Friday 13 ..." And while there are certainly tales of various "love connections" about, "No Such Thing" specifically relates an unwanted, first-date connection who cannot seem to "take the hint" that there is no future relationship to be had. After a month of pleading, the driving chorus finally demands, "Hey! / Leave me 'lone / Shuffle off! / Find a home!"

Finally, on the upbeat pop-disco romp, "The Land of the Living", this cut explores how mass and social media reach out to us around the world; in particular, regarding how the onslaught of 24/7 news outlets report so much terror and darkness that we may go crazy in thinking that the world is ending and we're all headed down with it. ("This Just In! World's No Worse Today As It Was So Long Ago ... ") Camera Soul offers a positive alternative; keep hope, love, and strength alive daily by unplugging from the black messages, even if just for one night.

Camera Soul's "Connections" is available for digital pre-order via American distribution partners TIMKAT Entertainment (http://timkatent.bandcamp.com), with CDs also available for purchase immediately following in late January and early February. After January 25, the album will be accessible via all major digital download outlets.

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Kathryn Ballard Shut

Kathryn Ballard Shut
@timkatent
since: 11/2011
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