JACK GATES VOYAGE OF THE TROUBADOUR
In days gone by a musician leaves San Francisco Bay on a sailing ship that travels south around Cape Horn and along the coast of South America—Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela—and through the West Indies to Cuba. At every stop along the way he performs for local audiences and imparts his musical knowledge, but also picks up regional music ideas that become incorporated into his sound. This is the metaphorical concept behind guitarist Jack Gates’ latest solo album, Voyage of the Troubadour.
Gates has always loved a wide variety of different types of music, but has especially studied Latin sounds from Brazilian to Afro-Cuban over the past 20 years. On this CD (his fourth solo album), Gates takes his music through the realms of sparse acoustic new age-style guitar improvisation to the sounds of an upbeat rhythmic Latin-jazz band with stops in- between on tunes featuring just guitar and vocals (by his wife, singer Sharyl Gates), an electric-guitar-led ensemble, and various combinations of acoustic and electric guitars mixed with singing, bass and drums, often with Latin-music stylings.
“The traveling troubadour concept,” explains Gates, “was how music moved from place to place for hundreds of years. Generally the music was made with just a couple of stringed- instruments and maybe some percussion. On this album I wanted to capture that sort of sparseness with just a few instruments and occasional voice, and have the music subtly reflect different styles, motifs and rhythms that I have discovered and enjoyed playing during my career.”
Jack wrote all the music and Sharyl all the lyrics and vocalizations, except for the one cover tune, “So Danco Samba,” composed by legendary Brazilian musician Antonio Carlos Jobim (“Danco” is pronounced in Portuguese as “Don - so”). Sharyl, who appears on seven of the 12 tunes, mostly performs wordless vocals, but also occasionally sings in English and Portuguese. They are joined on six selections by drummer Phil Thompson (Carlos Santana, Pete Escovedo, Roger Glenn, Marcos Silva, Viva Brasil) and bassist Dean Muench (co- director of the Berkeley Jazz School, Liza Silva, The Rio Thing, Misturado).