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After a stint in Las Vegas during the 80’s and a brief retreat into jazz the following decade, Bruce Conte is back on familiar ground, flexing his soul- and funk-drenched skills on Bullet Proof, the self-produced, previously unreleased work from the former Tower of Power guitarist (originally pressed in 2000 under the name Rhythm Meets the Blues). Bruce’s playing is polished and refined, devoid of the wearing, over-the-top histrionics often found in today’s guitar-driven recordings, and the material he’s chosen for Bullet Proof is the perfect showcase for Conte’s tasteful fretwork.
“Snatch It Back” is a prime example of Conte’s understated yet effective approach, adding a cool sense of “hip” to the popular standard. Further evidence can be heard on “I Feel So Bad” and the self penned “It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn,” both of which feature Bruce behind the microphone.
A veritable who’s who of L.A. musicians join Conte, including several guest vocalists. Former TOP band mate, Lenny Williams, turns in a chilling performance on the title track; a Memphis gem with its sultry melody and Williams’ soulful interpretation. Powerhouse songbird, Windy Barnes, turns up the heat on “Too Sad To Sing the Blues,” a number sure to win over even the most critical blues fan, and Ed Reddick delights listeners with the playful “I Met A Girl”.
Gavin Christopher, better known for his days leading Rufus, sings three numbers here beginning with “Too Much Cool,” a sophisticated funk number co-written by Conte. Christopher also delivers top notch performances on both the New Orleans flavored “Mojo Mambo” where saxophonist Michael Acosta steps into the spotlight for a winning performance, and “There’s Room At the Top,” a super-charged number steeped in the Tower Of Power tradition.
Bruce recruited additional TOP alumni for the project including Bobby Kimball, the GRAMMY Award winning vocalist from Toto, who lends his talents to the impassioned “Chasin’ The Blues”. Bassist, singer, songwriter Tim Scott adds another original to the track list with his “Just Won’t Act Right” and Ellis Hall, who’s impressive resume includes several motion picture soundtracks plus keyboard work on Kenny G’s Duotones, takes the lead on “Nowhere to Go”. Rounding things out is a tight ensemble cast led by keyboardist and engineer Hans Zermuelhen. In all, Bruce Conte and friends dish up an exciting and original recording that is sure to please.
This CD Is dedicated to my Uncle Robert 1939 – 2000.
Special Thanks: Jeanie Adams, Ed Adams, Sheldon & Rita Penn, Dennis F. Penn, Connie Penn, Rick Sanford, Jori Caldwell, Rays Downtown Deli, Dr. Joe Ortola, Carlos Lemos, Thomas H. Penn, Manuel Martinez, M & M Productions, Bluffs Restaraunt, Joe & Joy Conte, The Conte Family.
Featuring Guest Vocalists
- Bobby Kimball
- Lenny Williams
- Ellis Hall
- Gavin Christopher
- Windy Barnes
- Tim Scott
- Ed Reddick
Bruce Conte uses Dean Markley Strings, Bossa Guitars, Rivera Amps
All Tracks Produced by: Bruce Conte
Engineer On All Tracks: Hans Zermuehlen
Final Mastering On All Tracks by: Trevor Gordon, Tg Music Studios
Executive Producers: Richard Papazian, Tom Penn
Tracks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 mastered by Jeff Lewis, Moonlight Studios
Tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12 mastered by Keith Jones
All music published by Zambezi Music-2000, except “Mojo Mambo” (Mitchrich Music-BMI), “Feel So Bad” (Berkshire Music Inc-Chuck Willis Music Co-Elvis Presley Music-BMI) and “Snatch It Back and Hold It” (Bluesharp Music Company-Mic Shau Music Company-BMI)