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Smooth operator: Mario Biondi

26 October 2018 | Rosa Johnston-Flint

He's collaborated with Burt Bacharach and duetted with Chaka Khan for Incognito's "Transatlantic RPM" album – it’s fair to say that Mario Biondi is one of the world's most exciting new jazz vocalists. We caught up with him at the start of his UK tour, which runs until the end of October.

CC: Mario, what’s your style of music?
MB: Ah, it’s not easy to describe. It’s a melting pot – a mix of Italian music, soul, jazz, rock… I grew up with music every day and I heard all kinds of music. I try to keep the best of old music with me. Some people call me the “very white Barry White”, maybe thanks to my low voice, but my inspiration first of all was my father. He was a singer.
 
CC: What can people expect when they come to see you on tour?
MB: The set list is very varied. We’re dipping into the whole repertoire! We have some from “A Handful of Soul”, my lucky first album, and “If”, my second album. We also have songs from the album I produced with Bluey from Incognito here in London, and “Beyond”, “Brasil” – we don’t want to miss any!
 
CC: How would you describe your relationship to the UK?
MB: I need to thank the UK and the BBC for making my name! Without the support I’ve received from them, I wouldn’t exist!
 
CC: Any towns you’re visiting that are special to you?
MB: London is one of the most beautiful towns in the world – little by little I start to know places all over the world and I fall in love with towns I’ve never seen before. Thanks to Bluey [from Incognito] I feel quite at home here in London.
 
CC: Any jazz clubs or venues you can recommend?
MB: The very first time I went to London I visited Ronnie Scott’s, and for me it’s the club. One of my favourite singers when I was younger was Carmen McRae and she had a live album at Ronnie Scott’s. I feel a close affinity to that place.
 
CC: Any singers or musicians we should be listening to?
MB: Actually just the other day I started listening to a guy I like called Sam Tanner.

Upcoming tour dates:
Newcastle on Oct 26th and 27th at Hoochie Coochie 
Glasgow on Oct 28th at Oran Mor 
Edinburgh on Oct 29th at the Voodoo Rooms

For more information and to book tickets, visit Mario's website.

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