Mar 17, 2012
We read about artistic prodigies on a regular basis, but the late bloomers get less ink. And yet, for every twelve year old pianist at Carnegie Hall, there is a Grandma Moses who began her successful painting career at age 70.
Giacomo Gates fits into this category of successful late bloomers. Although he had played music and sung for his own enjoyment for years, he didn’t sing professional until he was forty, and had passed the age of sixty when had his first number one album last year with the triumphant salute to Gil Scott-Heron, The Revolution Will Be Jazz. Gates has been a regular in New England clubs and campuses for years, working out of his native Bridgeport, Connecticut (my birthplace as well).
A spoke with Gates a few weeks ago, and we had a freewheeling conversation on how to choose songs, the nature of “vocalese” and the reasons he felt the Gil Scott-Heron record would be a success. He’s quick to note that The Revolution Will Be Jazz is not a “tribute record” as the project was begun several years ago, and finished months before Gil’s untimely death last May at the age of 62.
Click here to listen to our talk, including musical selections from Gates’ albums, including:
“Show Business” from The Revolution Will Be Jazz. Of all the tunes he chose, Gates may have felt a special kinship to this tune, with its sly message and deep humor.
“Lady Day and John Coltrane” from The Revolution Will Be Jazz. For my money, this is the highlight of the CD, with stunning interplay between the rhythm section of Lonnie Plaxico (bass), Vincent Ector (drums) and John Di Martino on piano.
“Hungry Man” from Luminosity. Giacomo sings a tune of great humor and warmth backed by a band of Di Martino on piano; Ray Drummond on bass; Greg Bandy on drums; Bob Kindred on sax and Tony Lombardozzi on guitar.
“Melodious Funk” from Luminosity. Listen to the interview to hear a great story of how this tune came to be recorded. Priceless.
“Route 66” from Centerpiece. A great rendition of classic song, covered by everyone from Nat “King” Cole to the Rolling Stones. A top band is on hand, with Drummond and Bandy joined by Harold Danko on piano, Vincent Herring on sax and Vic Juris on guitar.