With every new era comes a fresh mindset, and no contemporary urban jazz track captures the hopeful spirit of 2021 like “Arrival,” the soulfully melodic, seductively grooving and instantly infectious debut single debut single by Roberto Restuccia that ever so subtly reflects the fast emerging UK guitarist and composer’s lifelong passion for the blues.
One of the most added new tracks according to the Billboard National Smooth Jazz Airplay chart, the perfectly titled song marks an auspicious launch for Trippin N’ Rhythm Records’ latest signee – who will be dropping his highly anticipated label debut With Every Turn this spring. Featuring all original songs penned by Restuccia, the rhythmically and harmonically eclectic 10-track collection showcases his dynamic collaboration with veteran keyboardist, #1 Billboard artist and fellow Brit Oli Silk, who produced the album. In his liner notes, Restuccia thanks his new labelmate for his friendship and guidance over the past three years as the project came together.
Building off the impressive worldwide following he cultivated starting in 2011 via hundreds of popular homegrown YouTube videos showcasing his love of, among other genres, rock, jazz, country and 80’s pop, Restuccia got down to business and recorded and released two indie albums - Exposure and When the Smoke Clears – back to back in 2016 and 2017. Recorded on low budgets mostly for his own satisfaction and to capture “ideas that were floating around,” he admits the music on Exposure was mostly him “messing around.” He liked the songs better on When the Smoke Clears but felt the production fell short.
While experimenting with different styles, Restuccia had long set his sights on success in the smooth jazz genre, which, he says, “grabs me from every direction, mixing funk and jazz, with openings to blues it up.” A longtime fan of Silk, Restuccia met the keyboardist after one of his local UK gigs, gave him one of those albums and told him he was working on some new material. Restuccia started sending tracks to the keyboardist and their creative relationships blossomed from there as the tracks that evolved into With Every Turn came together. The two live about an hour’s drive from each other on the outskirts of London.
“What I realized is that being a good writer and guitar player is not enough to ensure success at radio or with fans of this kind of music,” the guitarist says. “The right production makes the difference between a song that’s nice and one that can light up the charts and get people grooving when they hear it on the radio. I knew I needed to step up my production game, and once we started working together, I knew that Oli and I would have a solid partnership that could take my music to the next level. I took my time with the compositions and when they were ready, it was great to see Oli fulfill my vision of having bass and drums cut together, to create what I call a good cake with all the right icing on top.
“With all the right textures, including the incredible sax of Derek Nash, Oli created the perfect vibe and ambience around my songs,” Restuccia adds. “Foremost in my mind is making someone feel something with the music. There’s a reason for every sonic element on With Every Turn. It’s totally focused, and there’s nothing extraneous played just for the sake of it. Oli did an incredible job getting the best performances out of me. The key to that was me at last being totally truthful to my artistry and a producer artist relationship based on mutual respect, where there were no boundaries as to what we could say to each other as we moved along.”
Their incredible artist-producer chemistry drives every nuance of the project, from the bubbling, in the pocket funk and snazzy electric guitar fire of the opening track “Love Crazy” to the freewheeling old school blues-funk closer “Clickin’”. The set rolls through some powerful emotional dynamics, showcasing Restuccia’s higher weepy tones on the bluesy, slow simmering title track and the hypnotic, easy rolling chill flow of “1985” and “On Mulberry” then getting down to some wild incendiary business on “You Got-Ta” and the raw, intense rock-blues fusion of “Blues Funk.” Other potential future singles include the sensual and vibey, acid jazzy “Liquorice Pizza” and the brassy, playfully thumping romp “That’s It for Tonight.”
Considering his dexterity, fluidity and intuitive sense of melody and harmony, one of the most remarkable aspects of Restuccia’s musical background is that he’s largely self-taught. A talented painter growing up, he was promised a place in a degree course for artists – and when that fell through, he enrolled for a year at the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Guildford, where his teachers included Guthrie Govan (a shredder who toured with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai) and Pete Callard, whose touring credits include Lionel Richie.
The guitarist’s time at the renowned school helped him develop his skills with harmony and theory, but he often likes to say that he went to the “University of Slash,” first learning to play from VCR recordings of concerts by Guns N’ Roses and Pearl Jam, pausing the videos and doing his best to copy the licks of Slash and Mike McCready. Restuccia credits the evolution of his jazz and blues sensibilities to influential figures like Chuck Loeb, George Benson, Larry Carlton, Ronnie Jordan, Robben Ford and Jeff Golub.
“An older guitar player I knew lent me a tuitional video of Robben Ford,” he says. “Early in my life, like any kid learning the guitar, I was drawn to flashier players. But after a while, I started having more respect for the meat and potatoes guys, who played less but whose tones spoke more personally to me. Robben was one of those guys. Just like I say about the music on With Every Turn, there was a reason for every note he played. His attention to chord changes drew me to him.
“I also loved the way Ronnie Jordan mixed cool jazzy phrases with urban beats,” Restuccia adds, “and the fact that his playing was raw and a little rough around the edges. And no one laid the foundation for the blend of jazz and blues in the smooth jazz genre better than Jeff Golub. He came from a rock/blues background and added grit to the genre. My sound is consciously not a carbon copy of any one of those great players, but I draw from all of their influences to help me become the best me.”
When Restuccia decided he leave ACM at 19, he went straight into teaching. Over the years, building his private practice mostly by word of mouth, he has taught literally thousands of students not only how to become the best guitarists they can be, but also to become more confident and develop their love of music. While he rarely took a break in his constant day and night teaching schedule, a family tragedy and the subsequent personal losses in its wake led him to the cathartic self-expressions he began sharing on YouTube. At one point, the owner of Coffee Break Grooves, a popular company offering professional backing tracks for musicians, saw Restuccia’s videos and started sending him tracks for him to play over. One of the videos racked up over 320,000 views in just a few weeks.
“I’m very grateful to Oli for introducing me to Trippin’ N Rhythm Records, and for the label’s faith in my work and potential as an artist,” he says. “I’m truly enjoying all the creative aspects of taking my career further, and I’m excited that more people than ever are hearing my music and responding so positively to it. It’s an incredible process, where you start out with a little nugget of an idea and expand it into a song and production that’s so much bigger than you could ever have imagined. Exciting me just as much as that blank canvass is the opportunity to, post-pandemic, perform my own material live. I’ve gigged on and off as a sideman with local UK blues musicians, but there’s nothing like the opportunity to touch people with songs I wrote from the heart. I feel like this is my time, and I can honestly say I’ve arrived.”