Born Antonio Vitale in Pescara (located on the Italian East Coast), Jester served as the lead vocalist in the infamous underground rock-blues band “The Warm Morning 616” since the very late nineties. In the meantime he started scrapping his own songs from scratch using only an acoustic guitar and his aged cassette multitrack. After WM616 disbanded in early 2003 struggling on the way to the completion of a still unreleased album -which is intended to be resumed one of these days- he then put his solo project on hiatus too, eventually starting it over in 2008. His debut solo album “Lo-fi, back to tape” (Twelve Records, 2009) came out from a careful selection of previous material archived in those early cassette tapes, the songs being basically left as they were recorded except for very sparse overdubs: “Skip James wouldn’t have been Skip James if he stood in front of a computer monitor”, Vitale later told “Lost Highways” webzine, talking about the making of his first record. The reactions were surprisingly good, with some highlights like “Uncut” magazine starring the album 3 out of 5. Vitale’s vocals are undoubtly the centerpiece of the record, getting their way through the bare instrumentation.
This simple formula went straight to the subsequent album: “Magellano” (Twelve Records, 2012) is named from the road where Antonio resides in his hometown, nearby the seaside and quite close to the town’s own port. A port which obviously smells like both salt and petrol, dust and sand, cigarettes and alcohol, where the many boats get their long-awaited rest after spending over the night going fishing: a perfect place to start from, but at the same time a place not providing so many good reasons to really come back. A trip over the sea is the concept of the whole album, which by the way is not from a strict perspective a concept album at all. The mood is sensibly darker than the previous effort, with some drums, bass and percussion here and there, slide guitars and even a mandolin, while still keeping the essential structure and arrangements, which together with Vitale’s guitar and his deep, baritonal yet cutting voice set his distinctive trademark. The songs have been often described as similar to paintings or sculptures, true operates of art.
Later on, a special limited handmade cassette tape -containing a series of both previously released and unreleased cover versions- has been exclusively released for the 2014 italian edition of the International Cassette Store Day. More music is on the way, though: a six-track EP is scheduled for a web release with the option of a limited vinyl printing in summer 2015 (possibly followed by a split single, and even an old refurbished side-project). Finally, a brand new album will eventually pop out in 2016.
Some gigs have been performed with a full band over the years, including the big and crowded “Magellano” release party in the unusual location of a clothes’ manufacturing plant. But these days Jester At Work is mainly a duo including another guitar player, or sometimes a pure solo performance. It’s the nature of the artist claiming this formula, which is granted to achieve lots of attention despite maybe lacking a little bit of “rock”.
Give Jester At Work’s music a try.