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The hipster returns

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Jazz singer Giacomo Gates is full of surprises—for his audience, and his bandmates. His performances are richer for it.

Such was the case Saturday night when he closed out February with a South County Jazz Club concert at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center in Sarasota FL.Gates' band for the night, and a pair of jazz bistro concerts scheduled Sunday, March 1 at JD's in Port Charlotte, included pianist Mac Chrupcala, bassist Don Mopsick and drummer Patricia Dean.

He built an instant rapport with the band and the audience, putting each song in context as he blended straight-ahead vocals; scat solos in which he uncannily sounded like a trombone, a double bass and even a flute; and vocalese. It involves singing words to a classic instrumental solo. Eddie Jefferson pioneered vocalese, Jon Hendricks popularized it, and Gates is one of today's great vocalese ambassadors. 

As for the surprises sprinkled among his many gems. Gates brought Dean out from behind the drum set to share the vocal spotlight for two tunes. She's one of Florida's finer jazz singers but finds her timekeeping in steady demand. Their vocal duet on “All of Me" was followed by an interesting vocal twist. Gates layered bits of Thelonious Monk's “Straight, No Chaser" over Dean's version of the Lambert, Hendricks and Ross classic “Centerpiece." Digging deep into the jazz archives, Gates sang the rather obscure tune “If I Were You, Baby, I'd Love Me." Nat Cole recorded it first in 1950 and it is rarely heard anymore. This was the first time Gates' band mates had ever played it. He also rolled out Babs Gonzalez' ode to romance gone wrong, “When Lovers They Lose."

This was Gates' third annual appearance in the area, though it was his first for the South County Jazz Club. No doubt he'll be back.

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This story appears courtesy of Ken Franckling's Jazz Notes.
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