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Detailed Description / Musicians
Giacomo Gates - vocals
John diMartino - piano
Ray Drummond - bass
Greg Bandy - drums
Bob Kindred - tenor sax
Tony Lombardozzi - guitar
Giacomo Gates - vocals
Larry Dunlap - piano
Aaron Hermain - bass
Jeff Mars - drums
John Gove - trombone
Over the years, vocalist Giacomo Gates has established himself as one of the pre-eminent jazz singers of his time, often being described as the heir to the Eddie Jefferson/Jon Hendricks/King Pleasure throne of pure jazz vocalizing. With Luminosity, his CD/DVD release on the new West Coast label doubledave music, Gates offers ample testimony that his talents extend well beyond that somewhat limiting description. Unquestionably, jazz is the core of Gates' music, but his mellifluous baritone voice and his deeply compelling interpretation of the lyrics places him alongside other top vocalists in the popular tradition that was established by Louis Armstrong - like Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Nat Cole. Gates' artistry is enhanced by his pre-jazz life experience - including operating heavy machinery on the Alaska pipeline after a year of adventure dealing blackjack, managing the suicide shift in an all-night liquor store, serving as bouncer in rough and tumble nightspots and even offering bodyguard protection to a few ladies of questionable repute - bringing an emotional authenticity to his music.
For those many fans of Giacomo's who love Gates' scatting and Vocalese, there's plenty of material on Luminosity to satisfy them. The DVD, a live performance recorded at Jazz at Pearl's in San Francisco, includes two of Gates' most popular vocalese pieces, "Billie's Bounce" and "Lady Be Good/Disappointed," each featuring Giacomo singing classic Charlie Parker solos. The CD includes Jon Hendricks' Lambert, Hendricks & Ross interpretation of Ellington's "What Am I Here For?" with Gates singing Duke's, Cootie Williams' and Ben Webster's solos and four bar exchanges.
The DVD, beautifully shot and edited in four camera, high-definition widescreen - with an outstanding San Francisco-based quartet of trombonist John Gove, pianist Larry Dunlap and the bass/drums tandem of Aaron German and Jeff Marrs - clearly demonstrates the charismatic stage persona that has brought Giacomo so many dedicated fans. A riveting performer, Gates' interaction with his band and the intense connection he makes with his audience provides an added depth to his powerful interpretative style, particularly on display with his intimate narrative introduction to the beautiful ballad, "Since I Fell For You." The sweetly dissonant and intricately structured "Melodious Funk" is the only piece that is on both the DVD and the CD. With its unusual rhythmic flow and modern lyrical style, "Melodious Funk" is the ideal link between Gates' live performance and studio approach, and offers the wide-open terrain for ensemble interaction that characterizes his music.
The CD, co-produced with noted engineer/producer Jon Russell (who also engineered), features an extraordinary ensemble of pianist John diMartino, guitarist Tony Lombardozzi, bassist Ray Drummond, drummer Greg Bandy and tenor saxophonist Bob Kindred. The repertoire covers an enormous range of material spanning items from the Great American Songbook, classic jazz works, a Jimi Hendrix tune and a whimsical, but pointed bonus track in the funk/rap style penned by Gates.
The wide range of material is beautifully woven together in a totally integrated manner, cemented by remarkable and innovative ensemble work and Gates' singular style. This is probably most notably displayed in the sequencing of the sturdy standard, "Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat" followed by Jimi Hendrix' "Up From the Skies." The former, Gates' tribute to The Inkspots, bounces comfortably over a swing era-style rhythm guitar ala Freddie Green. The latter is also built on a guitar groove, but this time in an irresistible boogie-blues style, and featuring Gates' delightful wah-wah guitar vocal. In both cases, the music is original and authentic, without even a whiff of either parody or condescension.
The essential component of great jazz is fully in play at all times, with synergy as the goal and cohesiveness as the means. The band supports Gates not simply as vocal accompaniment, but more in the manner that would ensue under the leadership of a hornman. This maintains the potent jazz feeling, even in the more straightforward interpretations of the songs. In that respect, Giacomo's sensitive ballad approach is most vividly represented. His method of allowing the story depicted in the lyrical context - rather than the notes - to shape the phrasing and feeling makes his interpretations most compelling.
Whitney & Kramer's haunting "The Beginning Of The End," originally recorded by Nat Cole and reinvented by Babs Gonzales, is given a lovely, yet rhythmic treatment. The rarely recorded Wildhorn & Murphy tune "Romancin' The Blues" is given a gently bluesy turn. A pointed and relevant comment on e-mails introduces the gorgeous Jenkins/Mercer standard, "P.S. I Love You."
On the up-tempo side is "Comes Love," a joyful romp, dynamically propelled by the rollicking ensemble and Gates' impeccable scatting. The sardonically humorous Dickie Thompson piece, "Me, Spelled M-E, Me" gives the band nice solo space, as does another playful piece, Bobby Troup's "Hungry Man," with its jaunty groove and tantalizing suspended rhythm. A deliciously bluesy groove is the setting for Joe Derise & Marcia Hillman's "The Blues Are Out Of Town" and for "Peace of Mind, Gates' lyrics to Thelonious Monk's Let's Cool One, an appropriately jaunty, syncopated spin.
The CD closes with a bonus track, described as such because of its separate musical context from the rest of the CD. A rap-style piece built on a funky James
Brown/P-Funk bottom - complete with chicken scratch rhythm guitar and Bernie Worrell-ish piano comments - "Full Of Myself" is a bitingly funny comment on the contemporary cult of celebrity.
Not enough can be said to properly praise the musicians on this recording. John diMartino's creative and innovative comping, Tony Lombardozzi's solid rhythmic sensibility, Kindred's virile warmth and the remarkably inventive interplay of Ray Drummond and Greg Bandy provide the perfect setting for the unerring lyricism and deeply personal interpretative style of Giacomo Gates.
| ||Available Items by Giacomo Gates|| ||About Giacomo Gates|| |
The criteria for defining jazz singing will probably be argued for the rest of time. But no matter which side of the argument one may be on, there can be no doubt that Giacomo Gates is an authentic jazz vocalist. Heavily steeped in the traditions of the original vocal improvisers from Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald through their modern counterparts Betty Carter and Leon Thomas, Giacomo's own approach draws most heavily from the bebop-rooted masters like Jon Hendricks, Babs Gonzales, King Pleasure and most of all, Eddie Jefferson. Like his influences, Gates has forged his own unique path.
In his own words, "In this kind of music it's about intention, honesty and what comes through in your voice - the Experience of Life." Without question, Giacomo's life experience is unlike any other jazz artist that may come to mind. Blessed with a full-bodied and mellifluous voice, extraordinary rhythmic precision and an unerring sense of lyricism, Gates' total command of the vernacular, boundless creativity and exuberant passion set him apart from nearly every other vocalist on the scene. However, he didn't display his talents to the public-at-large until 1990, at 40 years of age. Prior to that, Gates led the life of a hardworking blue collar ?man's man.' After a number of years driving everything from school buses to cattle transporters to 18-wheelers, Giacomo departed for the Alaskan wilderness in 1975, working for 14 years in a variety of jobs, including three years on the Alaska Pipeline. Whether he was doing road construction, operating scrapers, loaders and bulldozers, or driving spikes into railway tracks in the flatland emptiness of the tundra with no directional guides other than a compass and the sky, Gates found these experiences to be powerful stimulation for developing his own artistic expression.