The Link Quartet were formed in 1991 by Renzo Bassi (bass), Mauarizio Girgenti (hammond), Giulio “Link” Cardini (guitar), and Chuck Bergonzi (drums). Joined by Tony “Face” Bacciocchi (percussion) in 1993, The Link Quartet would spend several years building their reputation as a leading force in the Italian club scene playing their special blend of 6T’s Hammond-fueled beat music.
In 1998, the band, with a growing lineup that featured a horn section, would finally record their self-titled debut single for Spain’s Animal Records. Featuring 3 original songs, including the self-important “Link Theme”, which after 7 years was certainly deserved! This in combination with a tour with UK’s leading Hammond powerhouse The James Taylor Quartet, left The Link Quartet prime for golden opportunities.
A 2nd single for Animal, “Sgnapp”, followed in 1999, and sported a new and improved Hammond prodigy in the form Paolo “Apollo” Negri. More changes would occur leading up to the first Link Quartet album, with guitarist Cardini and drummer Bergonzi’s spots being filled by Fausto Mazza and Vittorio Solinas respectively, and the horn section gone, the band were back down to 5. Simply titled “Episode 1”, and including a somewhat loungier interpretation of the funk sound, the record solidly demonstrated the bands ability to grasp and make their own the spy flavoured tunes by the likes of Quincy Jones and Lalo Schifrin. “Episode 1” was released in 2001 as a limited run of 200 copies, which managed to find their way around the world via direct Internet sales, but alas they still had not broken out to find international fame.
In 2002, Animal Records reissued “Episode 1”, which gave the band a better shot at global exposure, but also misrepresented the direction the band was beginning to move. Cardini returned to guitar duties, and Bacciocchi took over the drummer stool. The band settled back to their 6T’s roots, and traded in much of that lounge signature back to the funkier Hammond beat scene. And, they were at last a quartet once again, with the syncronicity and purpose necessary to make a great record.
Along with the sound, The Link Quartet began to retool their image as well. With an eye on the United States, the band were determined to make an album that would demonstrate that they could carry the raw live energy from their shows into the studio. This was accomplished by writing more original material, and applying that creativity in a more aggressive way to both how they arranged cover songs, but even in how they were selected. They worked tirelessly with their new label producer, Hammondbeat, and their audiences in refining the material before commiting to it fully. This interaction with the audience was essential in defining what material was best suited to making this new record great.
At the end of 2002 The Link Quartet released the album that took a decade to come to be. Many who had enjoyed “Episode 1”, but did not consider it to be a record of greatness, were skeptical that The Link Quartet could evolve as a leader of the beat scene beyond their Italian borders. “Beat.It” proved to indeed be a record of greatness and was well received by all that heard it and are passionate about the genre.
In 2003, filmmaker Jeffrey Bunzendahl was introduced to the band, and was “blown away” by their powerful sound. He later incorporated 5 songs from Beat.It into his spy film “Wilson Chance”, and authorized a companion CD to be produced entitled “Wilson Chance: The Sound Of Danger”, which was released in February 2004 (Hammondbeat Records) and preceded by “The Sound Of Danger Tour”, The Link Quartet’s first live appearances ever in the United States.
The Link Quartet returned to the United States for a tour in June 2004, which included dates on the West Coast and headlining the MODchicago weekender. They completed their 3rd studio album entitled “Italian Playboys” which was released in November ’04 to much critical praise, and much touring in Europe through late summer ’05.
In 2006 The Link Quartet took a break to establish their new direction. Founding member and drummer Tony Face left the band to focus on things closer to home and the band found a new drummer, Nicola Bernardoni, well known in the Italian jazz scene. Hammondbeat Records took this opportunity to release “Evolution” taking the listener back through LQ’s formation years (1997-2001) on record, from their first EP through the debut album “Episode 1″, including everything before their breakout album “Beat.It”. Also, though 2005 was quiet, LQ did record several new songs for the european compilation market which was compiled onto a companion EP entitled “Decade” as a tribute to LQ first 10 years on record.
2006 and 2007 sees the release of two albums exclusively for the japanese market by P-Vine Records: “Keep it Moving! Gran Turismo Soul Hits” (first “best of” the band) and “Long Live the Link” (first official live album), as well as Paolo’s solo debut for Hammondbeat: “A Bigger Tomorrow”. Between solo records Paolo and Hammondbeat started getting the LQ itch again and along with Renzo rebuilt the band with new guys Marco Murtas and Alberto Maffi on guitar and drums respectively. After many months of touring to develop their raport, a raw “funky for days” 45 “Fast Girls & Sexy Cars b/w Drummore” was cut to set a path for the 4th studio album simply titled “4″ (2011).
“4″ was a more complex production, benefiting from Paolo’s expanded writing and producer skills as well as his broad collaborative opportunites from 2 ambitious solo albums – “The Great Anything” (2010) was the 2nd – that allowed LQ to move even farther away from adapting great songs and focus on great originals that stand up on their own as “modern power-pop combined with R&B rock sensibility” – though their super funk adaptation of the Beatles’ Day Tripper shall not go unnoticed!
After Paolo completed his trilogy with “COBOL” (2011), a number of side-projects, extensive touring (including the band appearence at Sziget Festival in Budapest and opening acts for Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and Charles Bradley), a year-long collaboration between LQ and Miss Modus (aka Sarah Kennedy from the Scot’ band Modus) began. “Hotel Constellation” (2014) was recorded during a series of live Sarah-goes-to-Italy meet-ups manifesting into a full blown new space musical “when Earth has died and science has failed, one girl’s adventure for love begins!”
Then in 2016 The Link Quartet created “Quattro Pezzi Facili” EP, released by Area Pirata Records, with Silvia Molinari, an experienced singer with an incredible emotional charge. In search of the perfect balance between a signature instrumental energy and the intrinsic talent of Molinari, the group was inspired to reinvent foreign songs in Italian. The discovery of unreleased 60s scores allowed the group to explore and play with the sounds of that era but with an ear free to create something without precedent. Paolo Apollo Negri, Renzo Bassi, and Alberto Maffi created modern arrangements while Marco Murtas and Molinari interpreted the lyrics. The results are the imagings of Love Buzz (Shocking Blue), I’m A Woman (Shocking Blue), and Back Up Against The Wall (Blood Sweat And Tears). Completing the collection is a reinvention of the Ombretta Colli 1969 take of Harley Davidson (Serge Gainsbourg). The EP is followed by a promotional tour that sees the band on the road once again. While touring they found the inspiration for a new album, a “back to the roots” instrumental record set that will be released in spring 2017 by the german label Soundflat. The album, called “Minimal Animal”, sets the band back to its original attitude with 13 original instrumental tracks filled with screaming Hammond, wah wah guuitar and wild drums line.
The 2017 will also see the release of the whole Link Quartet catalogue by Tanzan Music, with special deluxe editions, to celebrate the 20 years of collaborations between Paolo and the band. Stay tuned for more!