Giacomo Gates - Everything Is Cool

George W. Harris
Jazz Weekly, September 21, 2015

Here is the anti-Buble. Giacomo Gates is no slick and polished pretty boy; he's been a bar bouncer and has run a bulldozer for a living. That alone should qualifier as a guy with a story to tell. Here, he teams with some kindred spirits in Grant Stewart/sax, , John di Martino/p, Tony Lombardozzi/g, Ed Howard/b and Willard Dyson/dr through a series of musical stories that mix melody with moxie. Stewart's tenor and Lombardozzi's guitar serve as a perfect frame on the suave "If I Were You, Baby, I'd Love Me" while he goes melancholy with diMartino on "Almost Blue." The team shuffles off to Buffalo on the poetic "Who Threw The Glue" while delivers soul that is as real as corduroys on "Hazel's Hips." Speaking of hip, the closing "Well You Needn't/It's Over Now" feels like an old leather jacket, warm and comfy with an attitude. Gotta love this guy!

 

dustygroove.com

Things are plenty cool when Giacomo Gates is around - as the singer's a real old school vocalist, with a hip sound that takes us back to the best modes of the postwar years! Gates has never fully gotten his due, but he's a contemporary singer that we'd place in a legacy that includes Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure, and Jon Hendricks - and, like all of those, is a vocalist who brings a hell of a lot of personality to his presentation of the material - rightly knowing that a jazz singer doesn't just swing, but finds a way to use his voice with the presence of an instrumental giant on the trumpet or tenor! Speaking of tenor, Grant Stewart blows in the small combo that backs up Giacomo - which also includes John DiMartino on piano and Tony Lombardozzi on guitar. Titles include "Everything Is Cool", "When Lovers They Lose", "Social Call", "Hazel's Hips", "Take Five", "Almost Blue", "Please Don't Bug Me", and "Who Threw The Glue".

 

Ralph Miriello
notesonjazz.blogspot.com

The baritone Giacomo Gates has released his latest album aptly titled Everything is Cool , unearthing once forgotten gems from the be bop-cool era, some of which epitomize authentic hip sentiment. On the cover, the perennial hipster is doffed in his black beret peering at the camera with a tip of his shades, a throwback to the beat era sense of cool. Opening with Babs Gonzales's "Everything is Cool" he croons "Twice as high as birds can fly, everything is cool." Digging deeper into the Gonzales repertoire, Gates does his version of the slow torch song "Here Today Gone Tomorrow" which he delivers in his lower register with a heartfelt sigh. On "When Lovers They Lose," another Gonzales original, Grant Stewart's sexy tenor looms large as Gates sings with a matter-of-fact resignation of one who knows love lost.

On the confidently hip "If I Were You Baby, I'd Love Me" Gates tells the tongue in cheek tale of an unabashed narcissist utilizing a slow sauntering blues as the vehicle. He is backed up by a solid group of journeymen musicians led by pianist John Di Martino, guitarist Tony Lombardozzi, bassist Ed Howard, saxophonist Grant Stewart and drummer Willard Dyson. Check it out here:

Gates reprises two swingers"Social Call" and "Hazel Hips" from his regular repertoire with some fine ensemble work by the group. The surprising choice of Elvis Costello's "Almost Blue" is given a simmering torch song approach and Paul Desmond's "Take Five" finds Gates singing yodel-like ala vocalese to the

Iola Brubeck lyrics with Stewart and Dyson deliver strong performances on this classic.

Gates own "Who Threw the Glue" is a treasure trove of hipsterism and its "U Bop Shebam" lyrics, bluesy swing and call out chorus that shouts the names famous jazz musicians at the coda.

A swinging rendition of trombonist Frank Rosilino's humorous "Please Don't Bug Me" is the ultimate cool cat song. A brusque dismissal of a lover whose time has come, Gates nonchalant delivery is nearly perfect with some noteworthy solo work by Di Martino, Lombardozzi and the buoyant bass of Ed Howard.

What could be more hip than taking comedienne Lenny Bruce's "All Alone" and making it your own. Gates hip speaks these lines with heartfelt but acerbic seriousness, like a beat poet on a Greenwich village stage, as pianist Di Martino deftly adds poignant accents.

If conjuring up the spirit of Lenny Bruce and Babs Gonzales weren't hip enough for you, Gates saves Monk's "Well You Needn't" for his finale, exquisitely navigating the quirky melody with his pliant voice.

 

Mike Jacobs
KIOS Jazz CD of the Month

Giacomo Gates is not only one of the leading practitioners of vocalese, he takes material from a wide range of composers and makes it his own. Whether it's uptempo bop , ballads or blues, Gates' intimate style gives you the feeling he is in your living room singing just to you.

He pays homage to his vocal heroes on his new disc "Everything Is Cool". Jon Hendricks, Babs Gonzalez, King Pleasure, Eddie Jefferson and others are among the legendary vocalists that are honored in this collection. Gates previously paid tributes to Gil Scott-Heron and Miles Davis.

Gates is joined by his longtime pianist John Di Martino, saxophonist Grant Stewart, guitarist Tony Lombardozzi , Ed Howard on bass and Willard Dyson on the drums. Highlights include the bluesy " If I Were You Baby, I'd Love Me", a seldom heard tune composed by Timmie Rodgers for Nat Cole. The well known "Social Call" and "Take Five" and a very effective rendition of Elvis Costello's "Almost Blue", a number that is becoming a jazz standard among singers these days.

Gates once again has delivered another gem. A diverse set of songs with his warm baritone and sympathetic musical backing that ranges from romance to humor to wistfulness that is a cut above most vocal jazz albums today.

 

NICHOLAS F. MONDELLO,
Allaboutjazz.com

Federal regulations require food and beverage manufacturers to provide "Nutrition Facts" on all package labels. They want you to know what you're digging into. Now, if recordings had that same requirement, Everything Is Cool from Giacomo Gates might read this way: "Ingredients: 100% genuine talent and devotion to the true art of jazz vocalizing. All natural and swinging ingredients. No artificial jive, smooth jazz, or ju-ju. Organic, filled with mojo, and very much the Real Deal, Baby!"

You see, Gates is an adoring acolyte to one of jazz's most honored traditions?the hard-swinging male jazz vocalist. No smooth, well-coiffed crooner or re-homogenized "package," this blues-collared Cat carries the torch that "Dippermouth" lit when he opened his and began to scat on Perdido Street. That flame was handed down, flickering through artists such as Babs Gonzales (whom Gates highlights here), Jon Hendricks, andEddie Jefferson. However, Gates drives his own iron in this superior effort and this one's as cool as it gets.

The selections, perfectly selected for Gates hip style, tip the beret rakishly to Mr. Gonzalez ("Everything Is Cool," "When Lovers They Lose," "Here Today and Gone Tomorrow"), as well acknowledging other boy hipsters, including Oscar Brown Jr. ("Hazel Hips"), Lenny Bruce ("All Alone"), Frank Rosolino ("Please Don't Bug Me"),Thelonious Monk (Well You Needn't"), Dave Brubeck ("Take Five"), et al. The repertoire is an acknowledgement and fine presentation of great jazz material and is testimony to Gates' enormous versatility, dramatic range, and even hip humor ("If I Were You Baby, I'd Love Me").

Vocally, Gates is a ballsy baritone who offers more swings than a big city park. His rhythmic sense -one festooned with syncopated upbeats?is swingingly instrumental. He can taffy-pull a beat's heart with the best of them and does so here. And, his lyric delivery has a speak-song flair to it which provides a pungent, yet attractive seasoning, bringing those black dots on the staff to jazz life. Gates' dramatic sense, one robust and filled with obvious life-experience overtones, is evidently displayed on the superb balladic material (Bruce's "All Alone" and Elvis Costello's "Almost Blue").

The accompanying crew here is indeed up for the date, with guitarist Tony Lombardozziand pianist John J. DiMartino (both frequent Gates sidekicks) standing out, but not on anyone's toes. Saxophonist Grant Stewart is a hair reserved here, but covers his solos admirably. Bassist Ed Howard and drummer Willard Dyson provide whiplash momentum for the stagecoach when needed and offer tasteful textures when not.

Giacomo Gates may not have his dough, notoriety, or "square"-ish black-rimmed glasses, but, after digging what's richly served up in Everything Is Cool, that other Gates might very well be in the market for shades, a black beret, and finger-popping lessons. Dig it.

Track Listing: Everything Is Cool; If I Were You, Baby, I'd Love Me; When Lovers They Lose; Social Call; Hazel's Hips; Almost Blue; Take Five; Who Threw the Glue? Here Today and Gone Tomorrow; Please Don't Bug Me; All Alone; Well You Needn't/It's Over Now.

Personnel: Giacomo Gates: vocals; Grant Stewart: saxophone; John Di Martino: piano; Tony Lombardozzi: guitar; Ed Howard; bass; Willard Dyson: drums.
Record Label: Savant Records
Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream

 

Christopher Loudon
Jazz Times, September, 2015

A latecomer to jazz as a vocation, Giacomo Gates cut his first album 20 years ago, at age 45, and has since recorded just six more as a leader. But what he lacks in quantity, he's more than made up in quality. A fervent acolyte of bebop, scat, and vocalese masters, Gates has dotted his albums with tributes to such heroes. Everything Is Cool makes his deepest dive into their collective songbooks, including selections by such seminal figures as Babs Gonzales, Oscar Brown Jr., Jon Hendricks, and Frank Rosolino, with Brubeck and Monk added for good measure.

As he enters his mid 60's, Gates' phrasing has grown a little looser, his ranger narrower. Still, he maintains one of the finest interpreters around, fully on par with Mark Murphy and Kurt Elling. Oddly, given the album's focus on intrepid vocal adventurers, Gates plays it straighter than usual, adding only the occasional scat chorus and just one meaty vocalese, stretching the center of Monk's "Well, You Needn't."

Gonzales is provided the most attention, Gates covering three of his tunes, including the breezy, Jimmy Van Heusen-worthy title track. Rosolino's "Please Don't Bug Me" is a vengeful delight, while Timme Rogers' bluesy "If I Were You, I'd Love Me" (written for Nat Cole) recalls the laidback sophistication of Matt Dennis. Most curious (and perhaps coolest of this ice-cool set) is "All Alone," a bitter slice of beat-poetry payback written by comic Lenny Bruce in 1958, after his wife left him.

 

Giacomo Gates - Miles Tones

by Bruce Crowther *****
Jazz Journal, United Kingdom, July, 2013

Although I have admired Giacomo Gates for a number of years, this is my first opportunity to review one of his albums for Jazz Journal. He really is exceptional, singing with a warm, fluid sound used here to re-present the music of Miles Davis. The singer does this with enormous skill and verve, choosing music either composed by or recorded by Davis. From the outset, Gates makes clear where his jazz loyalties lie.

This said, the overall musical mood demonstrates that his style is anchored in the post-bop mainstream and not in the fusion period of Davis' career and this is particularly appropriate and pleasing for a vocal album that should enjoy widespread approval.

As all readers are aware, we are in the midst of a flood of jazz (and near jazz) singers, most of whom are female and it would be tricky compiling a list of male singers that extended into double figures. There is, therefore, a need for those few male singers to have the highest qualifications and Gates passes all tests with the greatest of ease, is in my view the best of the bunch. A consummate artist, he is a singer who can be listened to over and over and always with pleasure. There are touches of scat and vocalese, but mainly this is simply excellent orthodox jazz singing and a real treat for aficionados. The accompanying musicians are all excellent with Stryker having several solo opportunities, all of which are taken with skill.

 

Giacomo Gates - Miles Tones

by Christopher Loudon
JazzTimes Magazine, May 2013

It has long been widely accepted that Kurt Elling is heir apparent to Mark Murphy. But an equally strong case can be made for Giacomo Gates. Indeed, while Elling has advanced to a somewhat distant?some might say higher?plateau, Gates remains truer to Murphy's path. Nor is it surprising that Gates has, since joining Joe Fields' Savant label in 2011, reached new levels of adventurism. It was, after all, during Murphy's three-decade association with Fields that his musical boldness and creativity soared. Many would argue that Murphy's mastery reached its apex with the Fields-produced Bop for Miles, recorded in 1990. Gates' Miles Tones is very nearly as magnificent.

Though Gates has, like Murphy, achieved his greatest fame for his ability to brilliantly vocalize multiple instruments, particularly horns, the intent of Miles Tones is to focus on lyrics associated with or subsequently attached to 10 Davis-related selections. As such, the album is as much a tribute to the wordsmiths?Oscar Brown Jr., Jon Hendricks and Al Jarreau among them?whose sagely tailored lyrics Gates so skillfully navigates.

From the long, lean lines of his "All Blues" and loose, loping "Be-Bop Lives," to his tightly coiled "Four" and dark, dense "'Long Comes Tutu," Gates strikes a dexterous balance between veneration and fresh interpretive imaginativeness. Murphy first added lyrics to "Milestones" when he recorded it in 1962 (and again in 1990), but Gates opts for his own clever wordplay. He also comes closer than any of the myriad vocalists who have covered it to capturing the bone-deep loneliness of Davis' "I Fall in Love Too Easily." The penultimate track, an insistent "So What" hoisted like a raised middle finger to all Davis detractors, is truly the album's endpoint. "Walkin'," which follows, simply provides a breezy coda.

 

Giacomo Gates - Miles Tones

From Nick's Picks (4 stars)

Fresh off the success of his much admired 2011 Gil Scott-Heron tribute recording The Revolution Will Be Jazz, vocalist Giacomo Gates may have paused at the idea of following up with another themed album, but when you have a chance salute Miles Davis, especially one with lyrics written by Oscar Brown, Jr., Eddie Jefferson and Jon Hendricks, the choice was a no brainer.

Miles Tones reunites Gates with his Heron trio (bassist Lonnie Plaxico, drummer Vincent Ector and longtime pianist John di Martino) and features a classic combo sound that dovetails perfectly with his wonderfully grizzled baritone. The other key roles are filled by trumpeter Freddie Hendricks and guitarist Dave Stryker who give Miles Tones a club-ready feel.

The album leads with the timeless composition "All Blues," where the band locks in a lilting groove to best serve Gates' distinctive croon. Pianist Di Martino comes close but never outshines the leader and the same needs to be said about the marvelous Stryker whose fretwork slips in a surprise or two (the sly Monk quote on "So What.")

Pulling tunes from throughout Miles' discography, bookended by his Birth Of The Cool period ("Boplicity") and Tutu ("'Long Come Tutu"). Gates swings like the best in-the-tradition vocalists, which is not too shabby for a guy who toiled on Alaskan oil pipelines in a prior life before pursuing his true calling and stepping up to the mic at a gig.

With Miles Tones, Gates springboards into the big league of great jazz singers with solid material and in-the-pocket musicians that underscores the leader's intrinsic hipness and gift for a song. (10 tracks; 49 minutes)

 

Giacomo Gates - Miles Tones

by Marc Meyers
Jazz Week

CD discoveries of the week. Giacomo Gates is hands down my favorite male vocalist on the scene today. His last album?The Revolution Will Be Jazz: The Songs Of Gil Scott-Heron?knocked me out. Now, he's back singing all Miles Davis on Miles Tones: Giacomo Gates Sings the Music of Miles Davis (Savant). Gates comes out of the club-singer tradition, most specifically vocalese?words added to jazz songs and signature instrumental solos. Think King Pleasure, Eddie Jefferson and Mark Murphy. Gates's hipster baritone, conviction and spry vocal solos take you back to a time when people read poetry in the park and jazz was about the joy of life and intellectual pursuits. Attention Don Was at Blue Note.

 

Giacomo Gates - Miles Tones

Jersey Jazz

For his latest album, Miles Tones (Savant - 2124), vocalist GIACOMO GATES explores ten tunes associated with Miles Davis, but with a difference. Previous tributes to Davis have concentrated on the instrumental side of the music. In this instance, Gates performs the lyrics, in some cases ones written after the fact for originally instrumental pieces, and for standards like "I Fall in Love Too Easily" and "You're My Everything," he sings the lyrics written before they ever became a part of the Davis repertoire. Whatever the origins, Gates, with his resonant baritone, simply nails them. With backing from Freddie Hendrix on trumpet, John Di Martino on piano, Dave Stryker on guitar, Lonnie Plaxico on bass and Vincent Ector on drums, Gates shows why he is among the best of the current male jazz singers. He has a terrific sense of rhythm and phrasing, and articulates even the most complex of the occasional vocalese lyrics. He is also like a sixth instrumental voice when he scats. Do you get the impression that I dig this album? Well you are right! (www.jazzdepot.com)

 

Giacomo Gates - Miles Tones

by Pierre Giroux (4 stars)

An animated Giacomo Gates sings, bops, and vocaleses his way through a selection of tunes either written by or associated with trumpeter Miles Davis. Supported by a tight and tasteful quintet, Gates delivers a session with an unfettered groove and makes Miles Tones a smart contemporary album.

Giacomo Gates understands miles from Miles. At one point in his early life, Gates spent time in Alaska working laying down pipeline, and thus came to recognize that singing, despite its uncertainties, was a preferable career choice than manual labor. Gates is an effortless singer with a cool temperament and these features come through on the set list whose origins are mostly from the Davis period of ?50s and ?60s (although "Boplicity" is from the Birth Of The Cool album from the late 1940s.)

Developing lyrics for some of these compositions is no easy matter, so Gates turned to Oscar Brown Jr., Eddie Jefferson and Jon Hendricks to create the written words for what were the instrumental tunes, while he wrote new lyrics for "Milestones". Davis' affection for pieces from The Great American Songbook were well represented by the Sammy Cahn/Julie Stein standard "I Fall In Love Too Easily" and the Harry Warren ballad "You're My Everything". Gates demonstrates his subtle flexibility in bringing these tunes to life with unpretentious honesty.

Ensuring the Gates' vocals have the greatest effect, the small band that supports his efforts is sharply-focused with crisp arrangements. Headed by guitarist Dave Stryker, they demonstrate impeccable sensitivity and never get in the way of the vocalist. Trumpeter Freddie Hendrix is especially effective with his smartly self-assured approach. This is an engaging concept album, and if you dig Miles, this release will be a pleasure.

 

Giacomo Gates - Miles Tones

by Richard B. Kamins
CultureCreature

Giacomo Gates is a vocalist with a history like few that have come to jazz. Toiling on oil pipelines in Alaska, he did not return to his home state of Connecticut until his late 30s and has been perfecting his craft for the past 2 decades. His previous Savant recording was dedicated to the music of Gil Scott-Heron, issued right about the time the poet/performer passed away. "Miles Tones" looks at the music of Miles Davis, features a top-notch band (trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, pianist John Di Martino, guitarist Dave Stryker, bassist Lonnie Plaxico and drummer Vincent Ector) and excellent arrangements. To his credit, Gates blends well-known Miles classics, such as "All Blues", "Milestones" and "So What", with several surprising choices as "Be-Bop Blues" (based on "Boplicity" from "Birth of the Cool") and "'Long Come Tutu" from "Tutu." The latter is quite funky with a wonderful muted trumpet support while the former swings ever-so-smoothly, Gates' "vocalese" solo a real treat. Di Martino's classy piano lines support the vocal on "'Round Midnight" - here, Hendrix's muted trumpet lines weave beneath the vocal. The afore-mentioned "So What" is a perfect match for Gates voice, which dances like Cannonball Adderley's alto sax did on the original version. Ector's "swinging" drums set the pace on "Four" and the "groove" is strengthened by Plaxico's active walking bass lines.

Also to the leader's credit, these songs do not overstay their welcome with only one over 6 minutes and most under 5. The solos are concise but impressive; it's the wonderful support of the musicians that stand out as does Giacomo Gates's "easy" approach to the vocals.He does not force his way through the material, making the experience all the more satisfying.

 

Giacomo Gates - The Revolution Will Be Jazz: The Songs of Gil Scott-Heron

by Christopher Loudon
JazzTimes Magazine, October 2011

If poet-cum-prophet Gil Scott-Heron taught us anything, it was to find your own truth. Which is precisely what Giacomo Gates does on this 10-track foray into the vast and fertile jungle of Scott-Heron songs, sermons and soliloquies. Gates could have covered pieces like "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," "Johannesburg," "We Almost Lost Detroit," "Angel Dust" and "B-Movie," all among Scott-Heron's best works, none of which have lost their sting.

But Gates travels deeper to unearth equally profound pieces that speak directly to, and for, him. These extend from jazz-centric musings-the impassioned "Lady Day and John Coltrane" and the slyly crafted condemnation of imposed boundaries, "Is It Jazz"-to wider-angle themes like "Show Bizness" and "New York" and such broader, hot-button topics as gun control ("Gun"), consumerism ("Madison Avenue") and cultural decay ("Winter in America"). Minimalist settings appropriately and effectively keep Scott-Heron's words in the spotlight. Gates' voice, akin to silk-backed sandpaper, suits the material ideally, particularly on the uplifting "It's Your World" and the gently hopeful "This Is a Prayer for Everybody to Be Free." It's rather like the jazz equivalent of Orson Welles reciting Shakespeare.

Given its timing, this album will likely be branded a tribute, though it was conceived and recorded well before Scott-Heron's death this past May. Better to think of it as personal benediction, and proof that Scott-Heron didn't speak for everyone but for every one.

 

Giacomo Gates: The Revolution Will Be Jazz (2011)

by James Nadal
AllAboutJazz.com

September 29, 2011

An omnipresent cloud persistently hangs over any tribute album - that the music will be compared to the original. Even though this might seem unfair, it's a fact. Knowing this, jazz vocalist Giacomo Gates dares to venture into the distinctive songbook of Gil Scott-Heron with The Revolution Will Be Jazz, and comes out the other side with a remarkable record.

Gates cautiously handpicked the songs from Scott-Heron's repertoire, and wisely does not attempt an imitation or duplication, but performs collective interpretations with his own characteristic baritone styling and phrasing.

The record opens with the swinging "Show Bizness," where Gates displays a confidence which permeates throughout the record. This vocal attitude is highlighted on the classic "Lady Day and John Coltrane," given a laidback treatment with room to set the proper mood, allowing the band to stretch out. The humorous and satirical tracks, "Legend in his Own Mind" and "Madison Avenue," work well with Gates, who delivers as if in a live setting, with ease and comfort.

Gates mentions in the liner notes that the songs "Gun" and "Winter In America," realistic views on modern social problems, are just as pertinent and relevant today as when first released. He takes on these two with a vengeance and maintains the vitality of the message, a key element in Scott-Heron's writing. The sincerity in "New York City," with its autobiographical connotations, might just be the pivotal song on the record where Gates really shines, crooning the subtle intent of the lyrics.

It took a lot of courage to decide to perform an entire record of songs by Scott-Heron, a genuine visionary and revolutionary figure in music. Gates was approached by producer Mark Ruffin for this project, based on his ability to convey the songs with authenticity, originality, and due respect to this legend of a songwriter. The Revolution Will Be Jazz displays all of these requirements and is a verification of just how important this music is.

 

The Revolution Will Be Jazz: Giacomo Gates Celebrates The Music Of Gil Scott-Heron

by Ralph A. Miriello
Huffington Post

August 24, 2011

The musician/poet/troubadour Gil Scott-Heron, who in the early 70's was influential to scores of people who heard his cool brand of hip music and absorbed the pithy observational wit of his lyrics, was being rediscovered recently when he released a new album I'm New Here in February of 2010. His rediscovery was crushingly cut short when Mr. Scott-Heron unexpectedly died in May of this year at the age of 62.

I was strongly influenced by the messages that Mr. Scott-Heron offered in his raspy, baritone voice that spoke with an inner wisdom that was somehow lost to many around him. His music shared a jazz and blues sensibility that I was prone to like to be sure, but it was his lyrics that were poignant and unforgettable. He spoke of things that others would only think and he did so in a beguiling manner that transcended time. I was not alone in my admiration. Producer Mark Ruffin, who is the program director of the Sirius/Xm Satellite channel Real Jazz, as well as a jazz journalist himself, was similarly struck by the music and lyrics of Mr. Scott-Heron. Ruffin envisioned an album of the poet's music, The Revolution Will Be Jazz , as an homage to the man whose later years were filled with drug related hardships and conflicts. Mr. Ruffin controversially chose the jazz baritone Giacomo Gates for the project and was anxiously waiting to present the finalized version to Scott -Heron when the singer suddenly died. If anyone had trepidations about Ruffin's choice for this project, Mr.Gates grasp of the music and his performance here has certainly put all doubts to rest.

Giacomo Gates is an authentic jazz vocalist and student of the jazz tradition. He has studied the works of vocalists like Jon Hendricks and Eddie Jefferson and has absorbed and broadened some of their techniques including scatting, vocalese and mimicking instruments with his voice. Gates has a smoky, slightly gravelly baritone voice with an unerring sense of swing. He is a master storyteller, often choosing music that offers some comic relief. It is precisely Mr. Gates' storytelling ability that makes him so well suited to the music of Mr. Scott-Heron. Gates wisely chose from Mr. Scott-Heron's repertoire those songs that tell a story, songs that spoke to him.

The opening number is a swinging case in point. "Show Business" certainly speaks to Mr. Gates. He has been plying his trade for some time and knows the sentiments of the song that Scott-Heron sardonically wrote about... "show business... got you hanging out in places you got no business." The song cooks, with pianist John Di Martino tinkling his keys in deft accompaniment and guitarist Tony Lombardozzi offering a tasty solo.

Gil Scott- Heron's hopeful "This is a Prayer for Everybody to be Free" is sung by Gates in a sauntering, heartfelt and earnest way. Claire Daly's baritone sax solo is deep and raspy and compliments Mr. Gates scatting brilliantly.

Mr. Gates vocal interpretation of "Lady Day and John Coltrane" steals the show. Lonnie Plaxico's plangent bass lines carry the tune beautifully, as drummer Vincent Ector holds the rhythm down. Mr. Gates is in top form here, as he seems to be in his element with the inherent flow of this song. Pianist Di Martino intersperses Latin influenced rhythms in his fluid solo.The coda finds Mr. Gates quietly whispering the last of the lyrics.

Another inspired performance is "Legend In His Own Mind." Gates is superlative when he has a story to tell and what better lyrics to work than lines like "...he has more romances than Beverly has Hills." Gates loves to embellish on the story line as he does on this one, and the group simply gets off on grooving behind him. This group of veteran players offers top notch accompaniment throughout as Mr. Gates ends the song in a beautifully expressive rising coda.

Seemingly plucked from the scripts of the series Mad Men, "Madison Avenue" is one of those stealthy Scott-Heron songs that laments about the way American business manipulates people to consume through clever advertisements. With lines like they can "...they can sell tuna to the Chicken of the Sea." its not hard to see why Gates chose this one. His soulful baritone takes this bluesy rendition to the limit with his hip insider take on the sentiment as the band pushes the song nicely.

Gates relishes the lyrics of Scott-Heron's "Gun," with Tony Lombardozzi starting the song with a funky guitar line that could have been a lead in for James Brown. He paces the song beautifully letting the funk seep into the pours of the song while still maintaining his cool delivery of the potent lyrics. You can feel the band having fun with the infectious funky groove.

One of my favorite Gil Scott-Heron song's is his great "Winter in America." Perhaps because the original is so close to my heart I can't bear to hear it played anyway but the way its seared into my consciousness. Gates chooses to slow the song to a crawl which I find a little unsettling. Claire Daly adds some nice flute to the mix.

Lonnie Plaxico's walking bass line leads us into "Is That Jazz," a song that is tailor made for Mr. Gates sensibilities as he swings with ease and does his most adventurous foray into vocalese on the album. Gates loves to speak of his jazz heroes. He has been influenced, by his own admission, by horn players like Dexter Gordon, Lou Donaldson and Lester Young, When he uses his voice as an instrument it is clear he has a horn player's mindset. Lombardozzi's guitar accompaniment is especially tasteful as is his solo work.

"New York City" was Scott-Heron's slightly sarcastic homage to the city from someone who loved it warts and all. Gates sings it like he too loves the Big Apple. He makes it into a slow love ballad that breaks occasionally into a more frenetic section that is symbolic of the city's own schizophrenic nature. "New York City, I don't know why I love you, but its real."

On the finale, the uplifting "It's Your World," Mr. Gates sings with his own sense of promise and sincerity...

The Revolution Will Be Jazz is certainly a noble homage to Gil Scott-Heron and his work. Mr. Ruffin should be proud of the results. With this album Mr. Gates has successfully ventured into new ground. Taking a step back from the classic American songbook that has been his staple and expanding his repertoire-in essence creating a statement of what is to be included in the new American songbook. I for one agree with his choices.

 

Fine album from Giacomo Gates, with 'The Revolution Will Be Jazz: The Songs of Gil Scott-Heron'

by Steve Greenlee
Boston Globe

August 16, 2011

No male jazz singer has a bigger gap between talent and fame than Giacomo Gates. A former construction worker who started his singing career late in life, Gates has released one excellent album after another, yet few people have heard of the guy. With his strong baritone and keen sense of timing, he reshapes standards at will, inserting both vocalese and scatting where no lyrics exist. He tackles more recent material on his new album, which was not intended to be a posthumous tribute; Gil Scott-Heron died in May, but Gates recorded these songs last fall and winter. In the course of these 10 tunes, Gates reveals new insights into Scott-Heron's oeuvre, from uptempo pieces like "Show Bizness" to slower numbers like "Winter in America." Incisive (and still relevant) social commentary abounds, of course. Gates's distinctive delivery - singing marginally below pitch, bending notes downward - is on display throughout, and his comfort with scatting is abundantly clear on tunes like "Legend in His Own Mind." (Out now)

 

First Listen: Giacomo Gates "The Revolution Will be Jazz - the Songs of Gil Scott-Heron"

by Jay Mazza
The Vinyl District

August 10, 2011

When Gil Scott-Heron passed away this past May, the world lost a unique voice that introduced a new way of performing, which influenced hip-hop from as far back as the late 1960s. His blend of spoken world poetry, jazz, soul and the blues exposed listeners to a consciousness that was far ahead of its time.

Though his most famous song, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," is known across the world, Scott-Heron was also a keen observer of the human condition outside of politics. It is mostly those more intimate songs that the great vocalist Giacomo Gates chose to include on this delightful new album.

From "Show Business" and "Legend in His Own Mind" to "Madison Avenue," Gates' deeply soulful voice exposes the lyricism and insight contained within Scott-Heron's compositions.

Gates is known as the modern day heir to Eddie Jefferson, the godfather of vocalese. Here he uses the style, which is often compared to scat singing, to great advantage. But he never showboats using the challenging technique. It is always in service of the song. Because Gates chooses to let the songs speak for themselves, he reveals himself as a true fan of Scott-Heron.

Though Gil Scott-Heron wasn't best known for his singing abilities, he had a unique way around a melody. Gates demonstrates the intrinsic genius in these compositions by bring world-class talent to the production, which is clearly a labor of love. I should also mention the contributions of the highly sympathetic band that Gates and the producer, Mark Ruffin, have assembled. Anchored by the in-demand studio bassist Lonnie Plaxico and Vincent Ector on drums, the group, which also includes the incredibly tasty guitarist Tony Lombardozzi, fleshes out these songs with aplomb. Special mention should also go to the pianist (and whistler) John Di Martino and the flautist Claire Daly who make "Winter in America," one of most prescient songs Scott-Heron ever wrote, a tour-de-force.

If you love Gil Scott-Heron you will love this album.

 

Interpreting A Legend

By Marc Myers
Wall Street Journal

Friday, July 15, 2011

WHEN GIL SCOTT-HERON?died in May, debate ensued about whether the late singer-songwriter was rap's father, soul's conscience or jazz's last storyteller. With the release July 19 of singer Giacomo Gates's "The Revolution Will Be Jazz: The Songs of Gil Scott-Heron," the last description seems to fit best.

At the dawn of the 1970s, Mr. Scott-Heron pioneered a recitative vocal style known as talk-singing. Like Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Sly Stone and other socially conscious black vocalists of the period, Mr. Scott-Heron forged his songs from the headlines, thematically focusing on inner-city decay and the worrisome future of the black family and community. But unlike those of his peers, most of Mr. Scott-Heron's singles barely made it onto the charts. Instead, his albums found a home on the newly emerging FM radio band.

Mr. Gates, is a sonorous baritone who fully grasps Mr. Scott-Heron's soulful essence and hope-laced lyrics. A powerful jazz vocal stylist in the tradition of Eddie Jefferson and Mark Murphy, Mr. Gates sensitively navigates the album's 10 tracks with coffeehouse warmth, never trying to out-hip Mr. Scott-Heron.

"There was a whole bunch of other stuff that Gil recorded about the urban experience that I would have had no business singing," said Mr. Gates, who is white. "I had to choose songs that I connected with personally, as a jazz artist."

On "Lady Day and John Coltrane," Mr. Gates remains true to the 1971 original but adds a jazz-funk overlay. "Madison Avenue," "Winter in America" and "New York City," all become talk-swing ballads with a beat sensibility.

Toward the end of "This Is a Prayer for Everybody to Be Free," the album's high point, Mr. Gates is so moved that his scatting emulates the mellow bark of a trombone.

Sadly, Mr. Scott-Heron is still largely unknown today. But based on Mr. Gates's tribute, the late artist's legacy is likely to find a home with other jazz artists.

 

A Jazz Singer Saunters Through Old and New

by Nate Chinen
New York Times

January 8, 2010

Giacomo Gates approaches jazz singing with a showman's poise and an aficionado's zeal. Holding court on Wednesday night in the mezzanine lounge of the Kitano New York Hotel, he was solicitous but cool. He wanted to let his listeners in on a secret, bring them into his confidence. With his deep, cognac baritone and his vintage-hipster lexicon, he seemed an appreciative throwback, eager to share credit with his precursors while mindful of keeping a little for himself.

Opening with "Melodious Funk," a medium-bright swinger from his most recent album, "Luminosity" (G88), Mr. Gates laid out his core principles from the start: sporty syncopations, nimble turns of phrase, sure-footed scat choruses. His stage manner conveyed a muted but stout physicality, perhaps as a byproduct of his experience. (Before turning full time to jazz in 1990, he spent more than a dozen years in heavy construction, working on the Trans-Alaska pipeline, among other things.) In his phrasing and his bearing, he upheld a distinctly masculine ideal of deceptive nonchalance.

Mr. Gates has made a specialty out of vocalese, the jazz practice of setting original lyrics to a musician's improvisations. It is probably no accident that his vocal timbre can evoke Eddie Jefferson, a pioneer in the style. Backed more than capably here by the pianist John di Martino and the bassist Steve LaSpina, Mr. Gates made a point of finessing Jefferson's "Disappointed," based on a Charlie Parker solo over Gershwin's "Lady Be Good." He also made a point of featuring some lyrical inventions of his own.

There was mixed success on that front. "Spinnin'," his take on the Lee Morgan tune "Speedball," was a winsome, convincing romantic complaint; "Too Many Things," based on Thelonious Monk's "Think of One," was an awkward critique of consumerism. Neither was technically vocalese, because the lyrics were set to the songs' melodies.

And when Mr. Gates went the full distance on the standard "Lullaby of Birdland," affixing his own words to a Dexter Gordon extemporization, the results were more like prose than poetry. ("He was the cat that played the solo that I'm singing for you tonight," Mr. Gates sang of Gordon, with dull accuracy.) Still, his execution was neat.

Wisely, he slipped a pair of songbook ballads into the set -- "P.S. I Love You" and "You've Changed" -- and each was a model of austere, straightforward pathos. And he closed with a winner: Monk's "Let's Call This," with original lyrics about the dwindling flame of a love affair.

"When I first met you / You were so inviting," Mr. Gates sang at the tune's start, articulating clearly. He held out the last syllable, "ing," for five and a half beats, echoing the jangle of Monk's pianism, and expecting everyone to get it.

 

"Giacomo Gates - Luminosity"


Christopher Loudon - JazzTimes


July 2008

Though Kurt Elling, Andy Bey and Mark Murphy garner greater attention, there's no question that Giacomo Gates belongs in their exalted league. Gates' sandy baritone, consistently handled with both the laid-back ease of Billy Eckstine and interpretative panache of Mel Torme (whose scat skills he echoes), is always inviting. But it is his ability to eschew overly familiar standards in favor of equality fine but less-obvious material that makes his albums particularly appealing.

Here, the 13-track spectrum, extending from Hendricks ("What Am I Here For?") to Hendrix ("Up From The Skies"), unearths all sorts of rare delights, often served up in clever pairs. A reworking of Monk's "Let's Cool One" (fitted with Gates' own lyrics and bracing scat lines) leads into Meredith d'Ambrosio's gray-clouded "Melodious Funk." Frank Wildhorn and John Murphy's heart-ache fueled "Romancin' the Blues" provides an ideal counterpoint to Joe Derise and Marcia Hillman's bouncily ebullient "The Blues Are Out of Town." And Dickie Thompson's self assured "Me, Spelled M-E, Me" breezily extends the theme of romantic inevitability introduces with "Comes Love." Elsewhere, Gates nods to both the Ink Spots and Bugs Bunny with the delightfully retro "Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat" and indulges his affection for Bobby Troup tunes with the deliciously caloric travelogue "Hungry Man."

Accompanying the disc is a five track DVD, recorded at San Francisco's Jazz at Pearl's that revisits "Melodious Funk," offers a gorgeously wistful and tender "Since I Fell For You," and pays double homage to one of Gates' greatest influences, Eddie Jefferson, first with a playfully executed "Disappointed" (blended with the Gershwins' "Lady Be Good") and then with a smoking "Billie's Bounce."

"Stopping Short at the Gates of Eccentricity"


Will Friedwald - The New York Sun


April 18, 2008

On his Web site, the veteran vocalist Giacomo Gates, who played four shows at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola this week, asserts that he is "committed to education." If there's one thing I would add in the way of advice to young musicians, it would be to find an approach that's exclusively your own, and Mr. Gates is a solid example of a performer who is doing something that no one else does. He evokes an age (that I would hope is not so terribly bygone) when musicians were entertainers and entertainers were musicians, and a sense of humor was as important as a sense of rhythm.

Mr. Gates has positioned himself as the heir apparent to the late Eddie Jefferson (who gets most of the credit, such as it is, for founding the jazz vocalese movement) and he has a dark-timbred baritone that at times is alarmingly similar to Jefferson's. Yet Mr. Gates is also widely regarded as the missing link between two contemporary male vocal headliners: the increasingly iconic Mark Murphy and the younger "worthy stud" (to use the performance artist Lord Buckley's term), Kurt Elling.

Like Messrs. Murphy and Elling, Mr. Gates is a committed eclectic, but unlike those two gentlemen (he has performed in their quartet, the Four Brothers), he stops just short of overt flakiness. One can find a little bit of everything in his vocal equivalent of a pupu platter: the blues, scatting, vocalese, instrumental imitations, novelty, and rhythm songs. Mr. Gates has a preference for male singer-songwriters of the modern jazz era, a fairly rare breed, yet he seems to know them all, from Jefferson and Jon Hendricks (whose excellent lyric to Duke Ellington's "What Am I Here For?" he sang on Wednesday night) to the more mainstream pianist-entertainers Matt Dennis and Bobby Troup, whose "Hungry Man" was a rhythmic and comic highlight of Wednesday's set, and their more contemporary descendents, such as Bob Dorough and Dave Frishberg.

When Mr. Gates sings the "straight" Great American Songbook, it's generally with a boppish twist: His version of "Oh, Lady Be Good" begins deceptively plain before it launches into "Disappointed," Jefferson's set of lyrics to Charlie Parker's solo on the Gershwin line (from a 1946 Jazz at the Philharmonic concert). He also sang "Comes Love," a 1939 show tune long favored by jazz singers, while the closest he came to a genuine ballad was "You Go to My Head," which he performed more as an account of getting wasted than as a salve for a broken heart.

Most of the emotion on this particular number was generated by Mr. Gates's ace accompanist, the fine tenor saxophonist Bob Kindred. There also was a charming duet on "All of Me" with Amanda Carr, a talented female vocalist visiting from Boston. On the whole, Mr. Gates would rather sing Thelonious Monk (the 1952 "Let's Cool One" and the blues "Straight No Chaser") than Cole Porter.

One thing that I've never heard Mr. Gates do ó unlike Messrs. Murphy and Elling ó is reprise Lord Buckley's famous take on Marc Antony's speech from "Julius Caesar." Still, the opening line of that routine, which begins, "Hipsters, flipsters, and finger-poppin' daddies," would seem to apply directly to him. Mr. Gates is, in fact, all of the above.


JAZZ IMPROV NEW YORK


Giacomo Gates at Trumpets Jazz Club
by Joe Lang

Vocalist Giacomo Gates should bill himself as "the man who keeps hip alive." Performing with John DiMartino on piano, Ray Drummond on bass and Vincent Ector on drums, Gates gave an enthusiastic audience at Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair, New Jersey a true taste of what jazz singing is. He puts it all together - the voice, the musicianship, the imagination, the humor, the attitude and the execution.

I caught the second act of the evening and these cats were real warm from what I understand was an excellent first set, and a nourishing meal on the break. These musicians were not a regular working group, in fact had not gigged together before, but you would never have guessed this to be the case. Gates told them what chart was up in his book, verbally sketched out what he wanted, and went straight to work, confident that he was going to get what he wanted from this remarkable trio. DiMartino is one of the great accompanists on the scene today, and also has terrific jazz chops, as he proved in solo after solo. Drummond is as steady as a rock, and his work has the kind of humorous undercurrent that marks the playing of Clark Terry. Ector was right there with the time, and added just the right accents.

The set opened with the staple of the Miles Davis (or should I say the Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson) catalog, "Four," with lyrics by Jon Hendricks. Next up was Gates' lyric for Monk's "Let's Cool One," that he has titled "Peace of Mind." The great Duke Pearson composition "Jeannine," with words by Oscar Brown Jr. has become a favorite with the fans of Giacomo Gates, and he honored a request for it. Eddie Jefferson set lyrics to a James Moody solo on "I Cover the Waterfront," and named it "I Just Got Back In Town." Gates artfully combined the original tune with the Jefferson piece. The Woody Herman version was the inspiration for Gates' take on "I Told You I Love You, Now Get Out." The set continued with "Since I Fell For You," and concluded with a Gates lyric for "Milestones." Gates' between song rap is an integral part of his performances, setting each selection with a sense of humor that is out and engaging.

Sitting in Trumpets, listening to music like this as it approached midnight, and looking around at everyone intensely and pleasurably digging the proceedings, it reinforced for me exactly why jazz is such a deep part of the emotional lives of those who appreciate it.

"Luminosity"


Owen McNally - The Hartford Courant


Giacomo Gates, the celebrated, Connecticut-based jazz singer, has the gilt-edged street-creds and working-class, blue-collar bona fides that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain can only envy, dream of or fake shamelessly.

Gates' earlier, pre-jazz life experienceóa rough-hewn resume that brings the ring of authenticity to his vocal artóranges from laboring as a heavy equipment operator on the Alaska pipeline to working the "suicide shift" at an all-night liquor store in a high-crime, seedy side of town.

If gritty, demanding jobs done well are a unisex gauge of one's machismo powersóor what a fervent Hillary supporter calls "the testicular factor"óGates gets high marks as an erstwhile, cool-headed blackjack dealer, bouncer in rough-and-tumble nightspots and bodyguard for what is delicately described as "ladies of questionable repute."

Before Gates finally found his true profession as a jazz singer at the relatively ripe age of 40 in 1990, his experience as a hardworking, blue-collar man's man had included everything from driving cattle transporters and 18-wheelers to driving spikes for railroad tracks on the Alaskan tundra.

Since he began professionally mining the jazz vocal tradition from Louis to Ella back then, the diligent craftsman and hard-working performer has established himself as an authentic jazz singer. For all his acclaim, however, the laidback, unassuming baritone never fails to credit that often cited element of "authenticity" to his working class roots and all he learned about life as it is from all those menial jobs taken on the road to finding himself.

When music became his full-time job, he totally immersed himself not just in mastering its nuts-and-bolts techniques, but also its history, its liberated, live-and-let-live lifestyle/philosophy and even its hipster argot, speaking fluently in its vocabulary and idioms.

Making a giant leap forward in his jazz career--maybe even a monumental, Clark Kentlike single bound--Gates, with his new CD/DVD, two-disc album, "Luminosity" (doubledavemusic), has forged a tough, totally unpretentious, bold, hard-swinging and utterly latte and Gucci-free sampler of his bebop rooted, scat and vocalese style.

A double-barreled release, "Luminosity" is right on target with one CD devoted to displaying his musical firepower in a studio setting and one DVD capturing his energies both as a hip singer and charismatic, audience-charming performer in a live session at San Francisco's Jazz at Pearl's.

On the 13 tracks on the album's CD, Gates stretches out with his horn-like lines on blues, bop and ballads, enjoying solid backup, particularly from soulmate and kindred spirit, tenor saxophonist Bob Kindred.

Gates' elastic repertoire has plenty of snap and stretches easily over pieces by such disparate composers as Thelonious Monk, Jimi Hendrix, Bobby Troup, Duke Ellington and Gordon Jenkins, with one Gates original seasoned with strong, James Brown-like funk and, surprisingly, an homage to the Ink Spots.

A lifelong jazz fan, Gates is quite happily and creatively enamored of such bebop-rooted icons of vocalese as Jon Hendricks, Babs Gonzales, King Pleasure andóhis personal holy of holiesóEddie Jefferson.

While Gates loves to sing pure, wordless phrases that emulate the instrumental lines of great horn players like Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Ben Webster and Dexter Gordon, itís also apparent from "Luminosity" and previous recordings that he also has a deep love for and profound understanding of the lyrics he sings.

Unlike many singers, it never sounds as if he's reading the song's words off a cue card for the first time ever. Instead, Gates gets deep inside the lyric, conveying its emotion whether heís expressing the dark night of the soul suffered by a spurned lover or grooving on a witty, irreverent blues lyric.

Because of his obvious passion for jazz as a transcendent force and love for the affecting impact of the spoken, written or sung word, it's easy to imagine Gates, a natural synthesizer of jazz and poetry, fitting right in as a charter member of the Beat Generation.

Chronologically, of course, Gates would have been way too young, a mere child, when the Beats were zinging Americaís Cold War establishment--even its iconic Ike--with an iconoclastic barrage of Zen, poetry, irreverence and non-conformity, including sex, drugs, Bird and Diz.

Nonetheless, it's not difficult to imagine an incarnation of an idealistic Gates hanging out at a Greenwich Village bar rapping with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, or checking out the Big Apple's 52nd Street scene to catch up with the latest revelation from Billie, Bird, Diz or Prez.

You can even envision Gates, as a young artist questing after life experiences, new rhythms and lyrical expressions, as one of Dean Moriarty's fellow wanderers in Kerouac's, jazz-inspired, word-drunk "On the Road," the classic, 1957 novel of the Beat Generation.

The industrious Gates, of course, would have wound up supporting all of Moriarty's merry, proto-hippie pilgrims by getting a job along the way, working with his hands while nourishing his mind with the wisdom of the hipster comedian Lord Buckley and the teachings of the cutting-edge pianist/composer Lennie Tristano.

Perhaps because of his varied life-experienceómuch in the Mark Twain school of learning about life by roughing it on new frontiersóGates is completely at home in a live performance, anywhere, anytime and for anyone.

Relaxed with his jazz jargon-seasoned patter between tunes, the blue-collar king of bebop connects with his audience as if they were old pals. It's almost as if everybody just happened to drop by his pad to have a friendly chatóperhaps about Miles Davis, Lawrence Ferlinghetti or Lenny Bruceóand maybe even a nightcap or two.

Shot in cinematic shadow and light, the video recording of Gates' live performance of four tunes comes across as natural, unforced, always complementing the music rather than trying to outshine it with flimflam film school gimmickry.

"Billie's Bounce"óa tune that allows Gates to combine his love of Charlie Parker and Eddie Jeffersonóis one of the best live tracks. It's an excellent companion to his "Lady Be Good," which is a musical meeting of the minds of George and Ira Gershwin with Bird's high-flying invention on the classic tune.

In a bonus track on the DVD, Gates speaks candidly about his life, passion for music and words, and of his ecumenical style that he acknowledges embraces "a little slice of everyone from Chet Baker to James Brown."

Gates gives the best, most succinct summation of what he's up to as an artist when he tells an off-camera interviewer:

"Itís about being honest."

"Luminosity - Giacomo Gates"


Michael G. Nastos


Giacomo Gates has flown under the radar for decades, always a rising star, but never able to grab the brass ring as one of the most talented and entertaining of a small cadre of male jazz vocalists. This new studio CD & club date DVD combo pack, only his fourth recording, should sway unacquainted listeners and attract an audience to what he does best -- play to the listener.

In his flatted tone and effusive manner, Gates can charm you, impress you with his vocal chops, and tell the tall tales of jazz from hard, cold experience that few singers know. Gates also knows how to pick a first-rate band, with the extraordinary pianist John DiMartino his main foil, the peerless bassist Ray Drummond, Cleveland veteran Greg Bandy on the drums, and lesser known but skilled players as guitarist Tony Lombardozzi and unsung tenor saxophonist Bob Kindred helping out.

Always aware of the swing factor, Gates takes an enhanced lyric line to "Comes Love," sings his own words about the modern-day rat race and slowing the pace of life down on Thelonious Monk's "Let's Cool One" retitled "Peace of Mind," and does Meredith D'Ambrosio's bopping "Melodious Funk" alongside Kindred in regards to missing your one and only. Always fond of Babs Gonzales and Eddie Jefferson, Gates interprets the insular, self-promoting "Me, Spelled M-E, Me," the heartbreaking ballad "The Beginning of the End," and the bass/vocalese primed "What Am I Here For?" Among the sliders or curveballs included; a wonderful bluesy version of Jimi Hendrix's "Up from the Skies," the slightly ribald yearning for a good meal during "Hungry Man," the e-mail disdain of "P.S., I Love You," and the completely deadpan, sarcastic, and contempt riddled talking point tune "Full of Myself."

The accompanying DVD is from a performance at Pearls' in San Francisco, backed by a quartet featuring pianist Larry Dunlap. Eddie Jefferson's lyrics are featured on the classic read of "Billie's Bounce," the great rendition of the combo tune "Lady Be Good/Disappointed" of which Gates has heroically done for years, and another take of "Melodious Funk."

Though Gates is handsome and full of charisma, he's not as slick or pop-oriented as the Harry Connick, Jr. types. This is a good thing, because the authentic, pure bop invention of his American idols still deserves to be heard. Giacomo Gates does it right, and he keeps diggin' up buried jazz treasures.

"***** Luminosity: The CD & DVD, 2/26/2008"


Franz Douskey


There is no one close to singing, getting down into the depth of music, like the incomparable Giacomo Gates. His command of each song is remarkable. He was superb in his earlier releases, including Blue Skies and Centerpiece, but with Luminosity, Mr. Gates displays ease, complete control and his unique style with the great range of tunes, including swing, standards, ballads and the blues.

The recording is exceptional, finely balanced, with each musician fully realized. Professional all the way. John diMartino on piano is solid and subtly creative. Tony Lombardozzi on guitar provides his always remarkable cool and airy, distinctive style. Ray Drummond and Greg Bandy provide the gritty pulses and depth on bass and drums respectively. However, center stage is the main instrument, the range, humor, passion and joy let loose in the vocals of the singularly best jazz pipes around, the astounding Giacomo Gates. This is one CD you don't want your life to go by and miss.

When your intrigued enough by his music, and you would like to see Giacomo Gates perform, slip the DVD into your player. Giacomo and a different group of exceptional musicians are on stage, in San Francisco. The vitality and the quality is there, but now you can witness the profound professionalism, the understanding and intense interpretation of the lyrics. You realize that this isn't someone merely singing words, you witness a great voice feeling the meaning, getting down into the evocative rapture, passion, exuberance, and ecstasy of each written word.

Here again, the live Frisco set is recorded remarkably well. And when you are finally knocked out by the music, you can sit back and watch the insightful Giacomo interview where he discusses his music, his influences and music history.

This is really the complete package, neatly put together. If you haven't had the experience of hearing Giacomo Gates, this is the right time. As far as anyone singing or sounding or creating and improvising like Giacomo Gates, no one comes close. In fact, he is so far out in front, they have eliminated second place. Luminosity is exactly right.

"Giacomo Gates - Live at Dizzy's Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center, New York. April 16, 2008."


Nick Mondello


For those not familiar with it, Dizzy's is beautiful venue, located in the Time-Warner Building. The expansive room, which overlooks Central Park, is appointed in a modern, yet comfortable dÈcor. It is a perfectly elegant setting for what turned out to be an evening of superb, swinging jazz.

I caught the group's early set on the second night of a two-night appearance. The room was at capacity and particularly vibrant. Gates was expected to perform selections from his new "Luminosity" CD/DVD, as well as other tunes meant to showcase his unique singing and scatting abilities. He and his ensemble certainly didnít disappoint.

"Melodious Funk," an edgy, very hip selection, got the evening off to a swinging start. The tune requires incredible vocal flexibility and intense attention to intonation and lyric nuances. Here, as he did all evening, Gates demonstrated an outstanding, make-it-look-easy ability to swing, phrase and shade both melody and lyric. The backup group, consisting of tenor sax man, Bob Kindred, pianist Don Friedman, bassist James King, Jr. and drummer, Greg Bandy, was terrific all evening. It was evident they enjoyed the interplay and Gates was superb and generous at encouraging them on.

Giacomo Gates is not bashful about reaching back and plucking lesser-known tunes and bringing them out to the forefront, especially selections whose lyrical component is rich and whose harmonic structure challenges the scatter. Bobby Troup's "Hungry Man," showed Troup's unique way to turn a witty lyric ñ and Gatesí smooth way to deliver it. Elder statesman of the keyboard, Don Friedman, was meticulous both here and throughout the evening. Swinging so. Nudging harmonically. First Class. King was just that - majestic, driving, technically awesome (I'd never heard arco bowing used so creatively). Drummer Bandy made full use of his rig - robust, yet never overbearing.

Emanating from the pedigree of and making no apologies for his adoration of the great scatter and vocalese artist, Eddie Jefferson, Giacomo also shined bright on Gershwin's war-horse, "Lady Be Good." This was a special treat as the "scat chef" cooked and flittered across the Jeffersonian lyrics set to the classic Bird solo. Yard would've dug it.

A luscious, romantic mood was set in place with Gatesí spoken intro and understated take on the Lenny Welch hit, "Since I Fell For You.î A vocalized invitation to relax, stretch out and imbibe, "Let's Cool One," was just that. Very cool.

Greg Bandy so reminded me of Art Blakey, driving hard on what I thought was the set's best tune, "Comes Love." This was the group's highlight of a very strong set. Gates wailed here. Kindred blew hard, as did Friedman. To paraphrase a Blakey title, this was the "cooker of the night."

Another paean to Eddie Jefferson, the humorous "Bennies From Heaven," tickled the crowd. The set concluded with a terrific rendition of "All of Me" in which Gates invited the exciting vocal talent, Amanda Carr (who was one of a number of vocalists in the audience) to participate. The impromptu duet was an invigorating finale to a fine set.

One very minor nitpick criticism: from my vantage point at the bar, the sound seemed at times a bit - just a hair - out of balance. Something you wouldn't expect here at Dizzy's.

All in all, Gates swung heavy, as he always does. A very tasteful, enjoyable evening. I'd look forward to more exciting things soon from Mr. Gates. You should as well.

"Luminosity | Giacomo Gates | DoubleDave Music (2008)"


By J Hunter


May 23, 2008

"Begin at the beginning," the King told the White Rabbit, "and go on until you come to the end. Then stop." Normally, that's good advice, except in the case of Luminosity, a sparkling CD/DVD package that proves Giacomo Gates is all about commitment -- to his listeners, to his fellow musicians (past and present), and to jazz and its history.

The DVD features a four-song excerpt from Gates' 2005 appearance at San Francisco's legendary club Jazz at Pearl's. But following that mini-set is the real prize of this package: "Influences, Concepts and Ruminations," a bonus feature that shows Gates discoursing about the songs and artists that have inspired him ever since he got his first taste of jazz from Dave Brubeck's Time Out (Columbia, 1959). Mind you, it's not necessary to watch this interview in order to enjoy Luminosity; Gates is always a treat to listen to whether he's on disc or in concert, and that's the way it is here. However, the insights and context "Influences" offers really puts Gates' overall performance in perspective.

First there are the artists, of whom Gates feels as passionately about today as he did when he first heard them: "Peace of Mind (Let's Cool One)" has Gates dispensing soothing advice over the startling music of Thelonious Monk; "What Am I Here For" combines Duke Ellington's music and Jon Hendricks' lyrics, doubling Gates' obvious pleasure; "Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat" lets Gates give shout-outs to Bugs Bunny and the Ink Spots; and Gates scores a three-fer with "Lady be Good/Disappointed"óa merry mashup of the Gershwins' music, the solo from Charlie Parker's take on "Lady," and the Eddie Jefferson lyric inspired by Parker's solo.

Then there are the lyrics, which gives Gates the stories he loves to tell: In a spoken-word intro to Bobby Troup's "Hungry Man" (one of several spoken intros on the studio set), Gates links Troup's love of travelóhe wrote "Route 66"ówith his love of fine food; Gates frames Dickie Thompson's "Me, Spelled M-E, Me" as a late-night infomercial for romance; and Gates shapes the questions Jimi Hendrix' alien protagonist asks during "Up From The Skies" into a snapshot-fast blast about global warming.

Gates is up-front about not having "an act": He knows what he's going to do in a general sense, but a lot of it is left up to the moment. That puts Gates and his band out on the wire, possibly without a net below. But the result is an unparalleled level of trust and respect, which raises all the performances to a higher level on both the studio side and the live side.

As Gates himself says, "There's gotta be a connection. Otherwise, I might as well stay home and sing." That connection would have been solid if Luminosity had only been a studio disc. But with the DVD, the listener not only makes the visual connection, but also connects with why Gates does what he does andóultimatelyósees why he does it so well.

"Luminosity"


Joe Lang - New Jersey Jazz


Listen to GIACOMO GATES in the interview on the DVD portion of his recent two-disc release, Luminosity (doubledavemusic ñ 3001), and then read his liner notes. What you will understand immediately is that he is a vocalist with deep intelligence, musical and otherwise, and that he expresses in his words and music the essence of what hipness and jazz are all about for the diggers of the world.

Then give a listen to the audio disc that contains an eclectic gathering of songs. There are inventive interpretations of standards like ìComes Love,î ìSomeoneís Rocking My Dreamboatî and ìP.S. I Love You.î Also present are humorous ditties such as ìMe, Spelled M-E, Meî and ìHungry Man.î Gates lyrical setting of Thelonious Monkís ìLetís Cool Oneî that he has retitled ìPeace of Mind,î and his original, ìFull of Myselfî show that his way with words extends to the realm of lyric writing.

Next, check out the DVD for Gates in performance at Pearlís, a club in San Francisco, to catch the vibe that he creates in a live setting, and you get a full picture of why Giacomo Gates is one of the few remaining jazz artists who give you a taste of the kind of ethos that attracted a disparate legion of fans to jazz, from Kerouac and the Beats to college students to intellectuals to button-down types. Gates is an oasis of freshness who should add some lightness and hope to those who despair the current state of our pop culture, plus he has a voice that is simply a gas! (www.giacomogates.com)

"Luminosity"


George Fendel - JAZZSCENE

July 2008

A number of years ago, at the urging of a very hip friend, I dropped by what was then The Red Lion in Portland, to hear a singer by the name of Giacomo Gates. I was hooked nearly from note one. Gates may well be the last link to the great bop singers of the mid-twentieth century; in particular, the great Eddie Jefferson.

Among many treasures on his new CD, a word or three on these: Me, Spelled M-E, Meî is nothing more than a musical suggestion. It was introduced by another bop throat, Babs Gonzales, and Iíve never heard it sung until now. Monkís ìLetís Cool One,î with a Gates lyric, becomes ìPeace of Mind.î An obvious play on words, Meredith díAmbrosioís ìMelodious Funkî becomes another easy scat vehicle for Gates. Another rarity is ìHungry Manî a Bobby Troup gem nicely reprised here. ìRomanciní The Blues,î a song that says ëI should be the headlines, not yesterdayís news,í has, as Gates notes, a Sinatra saloon feeling. Dukeís ìWhat Am I Here For?î comes at you with a scintillating scat lyric by Jon Hendricks, and the rarely done 1950ís ballad, "P.S., I Love Youî gets a tender treatment from Gates.

As if all this was not enough, thereís also a DVD tucked into this package. It features our bop champ in live performance with all motors humming. There was King Pleasure, Babs, Jon and Eddie J. And now thereís Giacomo Gates carrying on the tradition. True to his muse, Giacomo Gates can do it no other way. Highly recommended!!

"A Place For Jazz, Schenectady, NY, September 29, 2006"


Tom Pierce


On Friday Sept 29, 2006 the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady's magnificent venue, the Whisperdome, reverberated with the sounds of Jazz singer par excellence, Giacomo Gates and his trio. The concert certainly extended the 21st century unbroken circle of exceptional Jazz vocalists presented annually there by A Place For Jazz (APFJ) - starting with Rebecca Parris in 2001, followed annually in succession by Rene Marie, Patti Wicks, Philip Manuel and Roseanna Vitro, in 2005.

  ìGatesî has been recognized for over 15 years as an outstanding vocalist, not only by the public, who've enjoyed his 3 CD's - Blue Skies, Fly Rite and Centerpiece; but also respected by fellow artists, such as the accepted gold standard of living male Jazz singers - Mark Murphy, Jon Hendricks & Kurt Elling who have selected him on occasion to join their ìFour Brothersî act for international concerts.

  His Whisperdome performance last Friday, aided by a sterling trio of Tony Lombardozzi on guitar, Rick Petrone on bass and Joe Corsello, drums, more than exceeded expectations. Mr Lombardozzi particularly stood out, in adding beautiful obbligato fills behind Mr Gates, playing interesting solos and very touching endings.

  The first set jump started the evening with a cleanly articulated and swinging version of Eddie Vinson's (often credited instead to Miles Davis) ìFourî, with the deceptively simple but incontestably appropriate Jon Hendricks lyrics saluting the importance of ìTruth, Honor, Happiness and Loveî. The audience immediately came alive, as they recognized they were in for a memorable evening, not only of the phrasing, effective vocalese tributes to timeless instrumental solos and inventive scatting many expected, but also a resonantly rich voice, that could easily be appreciated even by those not as taken by the jazzier elements.

  Over and above his sheer vocal talent, his success in engaging listeners was facilitated by a seemingly effortless, but enormously expressive way of introducing songs. His ability to consistently set up each song, with just the right amount of meaningful, inside information, in a relaxed, natural and witty manner had the audience in the palm of his hands. This started with his humorous preface to the second tune, ìBaby You Should Know Itî about a fellow's inability to open up to tell his lady that he loved her.

  With Oliver Nelson's ìStolen Momentsî and the Gershwins' ìLady be Goodî, the crowd was drawn more and more into his performance, by his relaxed, but enthralling persona, which was assured, but not cocky or false like a Vegas lounge act. Of note also was his captivating body language, which swayed with the excellent rhythm section and easily took the stance that would have been assumed by whichever instrumentalist his scatting was based on, including that of a Flutist, while delightfully whistling a solo on ìSummertimeî.

  Special mention should also be made of his dynamic, tour de force treatment in the second set of Dizzy Gillespie's ìNight in Tunisiaî, allied with the drumming of Joe Corsello; as well as the invigorating & charming counterpoint duet with guest vocalist Jody Shayne of ìHow High the Moonî and ìOrnithologyî, a special highlight of the evening for her friends and fans in attendance. Also of interest was his distinctive scatting of Bass solos, either alone, or in tandem with his swinging bassist, Rick Petrone such as on ìBlue Skiesî.

  This review however would be remiss if it did not also accentuate his straight vocalizing, which was warm, sensitive and well modulated. On ballads like the poignant standard ìP.S. I Love Youî; ìThe Beginning of the Endî (a seldom heard, but very touching song) that he intimately delivered seated from the front step of the stage) and the lovingly chiding ìGirl Talkî, his projection and interpretation was unfailingly convincing and moving.

  In summary, as exciting and essential as his Jazz attributes (swinging, improvising and feeling for the blues) were that night, Giacomo Gates was also (and perhaps, more importantly), simply a very accomplished professional singer, of the highest order.

"A Hard Working Jazzman"


Thomas Staudter

New York Times, Sunday Feb 13, 2005

  "On and off the bandstand, Giacomo Gates fits the profile of the suave, cool jazz singer with ease. He favors stylish dark clothes for his tall, broad-shouldered frame, exudes a mixture of confidence and charm typical of a professional entertainer and casually drops hepcat slang into conversation, saying ''I'm gone,'' for instance, instead of ''goodbye.''

  "The unique ring he wears on the pinky of his right hand, made from a big gold nugget, tells another story altogether, though. From 1975 to 1988 Mr. Gates, worked as a heavy equipment operator in Alaska, building roads mostly, during the construction of the oil pipeline. It was a rough-and-tumble frontier existence, he said, and the ring was bought with one of his bigger paychecks."

  "But for the past 15, Mr. Gates, a Bridgeport native, has seen his popularity rise steadily in the jazz world, and today he is regarded to be one of the leading practitioners of vocalese, a challenging mode of singing a lyric that has been matched to a previously recorded bebop instrumental solo, at a tongue-twister pace."

  "Mr. Gates gained more attention in the fall with the release of his third album, Centerpiece, which reached No. 12 on the National Jazz Playlist chart. Since then, offers for club and concert dates have been rolling in, and he has even been booked already for some shows in 2006."

  ''Actually, what gasses me the most is that the musicians I'm working with -- all world-class people -- look like they're having a great time when we're playing, and they're telling me that my music is solid and refreshing,'' said Mr. Gates. ''The material is different from what a lot of other cats are doing, and yet audiences are loving it. This is the kind of validation that I really appreciate.'' At a recent appearance at One Station Plaza in Peekskill, N.Y., Mr. Gates showed he knows how to win over an audience. Accompanied by a guitarist and a bassist, he started his set with ''Lullaby of Birdland,'' written as an instrumental in the 1950's by the pianist George Shearing but now featuring several stanzas of lyrics written by Mr. Gates extolling the history of the famed Manhattan jazz club. Next up was Bobby Troup's novelty tune, ''Hungry Man,'' a food-filled travelogue of where the singer will go around the country for different delicacies, which elicited chuckles from the audience of 50 or so. Then, during a cover of Cole Porter's ''You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To,'' Mr. Gates supplied a vocalized virtuoso ''trombone'' solo that brought the house down."

  "While a number of current jazz artists include or incorporate vocalese in their singing style -- Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau and the vocal group known as the Manhattan Transfer are probably the best known -- its inherent difficulties ensure that the club of adherents will be somewhat exclusive."

  "Jon Hendricks, a progenitor of vocalese in the 1950's, said in a phone call from Los Angeles (where he was set to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys) that because the vocal style is just a generation old, singers are still trying to figure out its intricacies."

  ''Young folks are taking up vocalese, representing their own generation and helping to broaden the audience for the music, and Giacomo is among those singers and prominently so,'' said Mr. Hendricks, 83 and living in Toledo, Ohio. ''Not many people can master this music, but Giacomo has. He's an important man.''

  "The only child of a dressmaker and a welder with a penchant for big band jazz, Mr. Gates - he changed his name from Agostini when he started performing -- learned guitar and then took tap dancing lessons for several years. By the age of 10, he said, he was listening to singers like Cab Calloway and Jimmy Rushing as his peers swooned over Elvis Presley."

  "A love of the outdoors and physical labor led him to drop out of what was then Norwalk Technical College and become a construction worker."

  "Mr. Gates moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1975, and soon he was working farther north on major projects spurred by the oil boom. But he never lost his love for music, and with lots of money in his pocket he started buying jazz records by the dozens and studying them. Intrigued by vocalese, Mr. Gates began writing lyrics, and before long he was ''sitting in'' at nightclubs and singing."

  "Mr. Gates would probably still be in Alaska, he said, if he had not met the late jazz writer Grover Sales at a clinic for vocalists at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival in 1988. Mr. Sales recognized his talent and persuaded him to move back east right away to pursue jazz, said Mr. Gates, which he did. ''Having someone like Grover to push me early on made me realize that I had something special,'' Mr. Gates said recently over lunch at Pizza Time, his favorite pizza parlor in town."

  "Back in Bridgeport Mr. Gates tried to continue working construction while performing at night, but he finally decided to focus on music.

  "He moved back to his childhood home in 1998 to care for his mother -- she died two years later -- and he still lives in the small two-bedroom Cape Cod in the Lake Forest section. It is an impeccably neat bachelor pad cluttered only by books, jazz CD's and weight-lifting equipment."

  "As much as he relishes any opportunity to perform, Mr. Gates said teaching had become important, and for the past several years he has taught classes and private students at Wesleyan University, the Hartford Conservatory of Music and the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven. His growing renown has also brought in offers to lead the kind of vocal clinic where his own promise was first detected, and he has made three trips back to Fairbanks since 1999 to work with students there."

  "Last week Mr. Gates visited with two jazz classes at American University in Washington before playing a gig that evening, and the students benefited greatly, said Dr. William Smith, a music professor and jazz ensemble director at the school."

  ''One of the main things the students were able to hear was how important the intonation and technique Giacomo uses is to telling the story in each tune,'' said Dr. Smith. ''He weaved together his life experiences and music in a way that was really eye-opening for a lot of the students.''
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Centerpiece
"What is the real definition of jazz singing? This question has perplexed critics, fans and even musicians ever since Louis Armstrong redefined the entire concept of vocalizing nearly 80 years ago. Today, the answer to that question is even more elusive. But there is an answer. To re-work the old clichÈ "a picture is worth a thousand words," a CD is worth a thousand dissertations; and that CD is the incredible Giacomo Gatesí Centerpiece on Origin Records."

"Gates, who in 1989 abandoned a pursuit of adventure doing construction work in the wilds of Alaska to pursue a no less adventurous course as a jazz singer, is the living embodiment of that entire tradition. To undermine another clichÈ, that "those who can do; those who canít teach," Gates not only teaches students of all ages at Wesleyan University, The Hartford Conservatory of Music and New Havenís Neighborhood Music School, but also provides a full course in jazz vocal history with every live performance and recording. Centerpiece is a magnificent treatise on the subject."

"Blessed with a beautiful and full-bodied voice, with extraordinary rhythmic precision and an unerring sense of lyricism, Giacomoís total command of the vernacular, boundless creativity and exuberant passion set him apart from nearly every other vocalist on the scene."

"Great care and thought went into the choice of material contained on Centerpiece, offering a delightful array of classic jazz compositions and selections from the Great American Songbook. Likewise, the accompanying musicians are also ideal choices. Pianist Harold Danko and bassist Ray Drummond are highly lyrical in both solo and supporting roles. Together with Greg Bandy on drums, the entire rhythm section brings unfaltering rhythmic creativity and energy to every track in extremely empathetic fashion."

"Special guest artists, Vincent Herring on alto sax and guitarist Vic Juris bring their formidable talents to three and two pieces respectively. In true jazz tradition, the instrumentalists are given plenty of room in both solos and accompaniment, but the real centerpiece of Centerpiece is Giacomoís gem-like vocalizing."

"Giacomoís smoothly beautiful voice, joyous verve and spirited inventiveness have been honed through the influences of the entire pantheon of the jazz vocal tradition, including Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure, Jon Hendricks, Babs Gonzales, Dave Lambert and Leon Thomas. But equally important are the influences of lyrical instrumentalists like Lester Young, Lee Morgan, Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon. Lester and Ben Webster always spoke of learning the lyrics to the songs they played to retain the true spirit of the composition. Gates turns that around, retaining the interpretations of the stellar soloists in the songs he sings. On three tracks, Giacomo utilizes the Jefferson/King Pleasure tradition of creating a vocal rendition of a great solo -- all three of which were originally played by tenor saxophonists."

"On the old Seymour Simons/Gerald Marks standard, All of Me, Giacomo displays his rich baritone and full range on an Illinois Jacquet solo lyricized by King Pleasure. A medley of the Lester Young classic, Lester Leaps In/I Got The Blues with words by Jefferson to a James Moody solo, is a vividly swinging driver that exhibits Gates' amazing dexterity (pun intended). On the album closer, Gene Ammonsí Hittiní the Jug/Swan Song (the title of the vocal version by King Pleasure) Giacomo pays perfect tribute to the deeply soulful style of the immortal tenorman, further emphasized by a soul-drenched solo by Juris."

"Juris is also featured on the title track by Harry ëSweetsí Edison, providing remarkable interplay with Gatesí interpretation of the Jon Hendricks lyric. Vicís fine solo climaxes over Giacomoís vocal percussion punctuation. Two other examples of non-traditional "vocalizing" are also contained on the album. A flute-like whistling solo marks a fresh, nicely syncopated approach to the Gershwin masterpiece Summertime, along with the Jefferson lyrics. A tantalizing slowed-down version of Cole Porterís Youíd Be So Nice to Come Home To features a swinging "trombone" solo by Gates. None of these elements are contrived or showoff in any way, but rather just another color selected from Giacomoís wide palette of sound."

"Vincent Herringís alto is featured on three pieces, including a bop-style medley of jam session staple How High the Moon and Benny Harrisí be-bop anthem Ornithology (lyrics by Babs Gonzales), displaying Vincentís powerful solo style and Giacomoís full range of creative improvisational technique. A blazing version of Miles Davisí Milestones, with Giacomoís appropriately punchy original lyrics, features burning alto, dynamic piano and brilliant vocalization. The gorgeous Lady Bird, by the incomparable Tadd Dameron is beautifully sung by Giacomo who leaves the soloing in the fine hands of Herring and Danko."

"Two more excellent cuts round out this outstanding CD. Bobby Troupís Route 66 is given a heavily swinging treatment after a vividly etched portrait in Gatesí introduction. Scotch and Soda, by Dave Guard (of Kingston Trio fame) is a dreamy, atmospheric, after-hours ballad in the Sinatra tradition, with Giacomo wrenching every ounce of nuance and emotion from the lyrics and melody, with remarkable support from Greg Bandy."

"Like all great bearers of the jazz tradition, Gates is a deeply committed student of the music and an enormous fan of its unparalleled legacy. Not only are these qualities on full display in his music, but also in the way he speaks of those whose compositions and solos have inspired each piece in his spoken introductions and in the quotes contained in the liner information to the CD."

"Giacomo is known for his interaction with his live audiences with witty patter and informative introductions, much in the style of other crowd-pleasing heavyweights like Art Blakey, Cannonball Adderley, Tony Bennett and Duke Ellington. Three of those introductions are contained on this CD, further enhancing those tracks for the listener with the sources of inspiration and historical perspective while also providing the flavor of Giacomoís live performances."

"Not only does Gates embody the entire jazz vocal tradition in his music, but also the sheer joy, exuberance, wit and unlimited creativity that make jazz such a profound art form."   
-George Lane-
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