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 traditionsthe 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
, and Eddie 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 upbeatsis 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 Lombardozzi
and 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.