Jazz CD Reviews

Miles Tones – Giacomo Gates – Sings The Music Of Miles Davis – Savant Records

This is an engaging concept album, especially if you dig Miles.

Published on March 23, 2013

Miles Tones – Giacomo Gates – Sings The Music Of Miles Davis – Savant Records SCD2124 48:37 ****:

(Giacomo Gates – vocals; Freddie Hendrix – trumpet; John Di Martino – piano; Dave Stryker – guitar; Lonnie Plaxico – bass; Vincent Ector – drums)

An animated Giacomo Gates sings, bops, and vocaleses his way through a selection of tunes either written by or associated with trumpeter Miles Davis. Supported by a tight and tasteful quintet, Gates delivers a session with an unfettered groove and makes Miles Tones a smart contemporary album.

Giacomo Gates understands miles from Miles. At one point in his early life, Gates spent time in Alaska working laying down pipeline, and thus came to recognize that singing, despite its uncertainties, was a preferable career choice than manual labor. Gates is an effortless singer with a cool temperament and these features come through on the set list whose origins are mostly from the Davis period of ‘50s and ‘60s (although “Boplicity” is from the Birth Of The Cool album from the late 1940s.)

Developing lyrics for some of these compositions is no easy matter, so Gates turned to Oscar Brown Jr., Eddie Jefferson and Jon Hendricks to create the written words for what were the instrumental tunes, while he wrote new lyrics for “Milestones”. Davis’ affection for pieces from The Great American Songbook were well represented by the Sammy Cahn/Julie Stein standard “I Fall In Love Too Easily” and the Harry Warren ballad “You’re My Everything”. Gates demonstrates his subtle flexibility in bringing these tunes to life with unpretentious honesty.

Ensuring the Gates’ vocals have the greatest effect, the small band that supports his efforts is sharply-focused with crisp arrangements. Headed by guitarist Dave Stryker, they demonstrate impeccable sensitivity and never get in the way of the vocalist. Trumpeter Freddie Hendrix is especially effective with his smartly self-assured approach.

This is an engaging concept album, and if you dig Miles, this release will be a pleasure.

TrackList: All Blues; Be- Bop Lives ( Boplicity); Four; ‘Round Midnight; I Fall In Love Too Easily;’ Long Come Tutu; Milestones; You’re My Everything; So What; Walkin’

—Pierre Giroux




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