Mario Biondi and the High Five Quintet - A Handful of Soul


I first came across Mr Biondi when he fronted one of my favourite tracks of 2005 'This is what you are' with the appropriately named Italian group Was-A-Bee! This track alone has gone on to be featured on just about every eclectic Nu Jazz album from St Germain through to ManRay and Ursula 1000. What appears to be the original version is also featured on this 'debut' set. Despite it's title the album is NOT for Soul purists. It is moreover for those of us that are prepared to look outside the box and experiment with the fusion of  the myriad of different genres that make up the music style that we all love. 

The opening track Kenyatta's ' A child runs free' kicks off with a pulsating bossa rythmn that is both authentic and yet modern and hip. Music by Bill Withers sits alongside Henry Mancini and Al Kooper held together by a smokey toned voice that eases cool. Think of it vocally as a mixture of Lou Rawls meets Mark Murphy with the added support of a powerhouse rthymn section. The style whilst steeped in the American songbook brings European creativity allowing the retro feel to become fused with latin , vocal jazz and soul-blues. ' Never Die' is a fine piece of tight rhythmic vocal jazz that provides fascinating harmonies and melodic solos and will no doubt turn up on similar compilation albums as the aforementioned ' This is what you are' . Other cuts worthy of mention are the spiritual ' No trouble on the mountain' and the samba inspired 'Rio De Janeiro Blue' Overall the album which is selling VERY well in Italy at the moment will become much sought after by those who wish to identify new styles whilst listening to a unique vocalist that may just get people to think about the meaning of soul!