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Album Review

Centerpiece is the third album from Connecticut-based crooner Giacomo Gates. This is full-fledged jazz lounge singing at its contemporary best. The songs are standards from throughout the timeline of jazz, but with an extra ounce of emphasis on some of the writers: Cole Porter, Eddie Jefferson, and King Pleasure. There are clear echoes in Gates' technique of Sinatra at times, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross methods at times, and maybe a bit of Joe Williams on some of the bop standards. With these echoes and influences in hand, Gates then fuses them into a coherent style of his own. The great thing here, beyond being able to mimic aspects of the greats, is his ability to jump from style to style along the way and claim the songs for himself. In "Route 66," he slows the pace down to a lazy croon. In "I Got the Blues," he picks up the phrasing to a jumping bop format very reminiscent of a sped-up round of some of the Dizzy Gillespie/Joe Carroll classics. The forward drive is only enhanced as he smashes into a lyricized version of "Milestones" (which also features some exceptional solos from the band). The album is an exceptional take on vocal jazz, which tends to lose its sheer power and fun in favor of sentimentality in many new artists. Gates reclaims the fun of it and keeps the technical aspects at peak performance to boot. Definitely worth picking up for any fan of older styles of vocal jazz, and most likely for fans of contemporary vocal jazz to get a glimpse of a different take.

Customer Reviews

Excellent Effort

This guy is hip, can sing and scat with the best of them. Very enjoyable album!

Jazz at its best

Giacomo is personally responsible for turning me onto Speak Easy Jazz, and this is his best work yet. His interpretations are fresh and inspiring. If you're experimenting with new genres, this is an awesome Jazz album by a 21st century musical master.

Jazz reborn

You introduce me to Bebop and I am forever grateful. Centerpiece is hip, contemporary, and like fine wine, it only gets better. Giacomo is also a gifted writer and jazz historian which is often evident in his live performances. Can't wait for his next album!


Born: Connecticut

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A smoky-voiced jazz singer from the East Coast, Giacomo Gates is an expressive interpreter of lyrics who is proficient with scat singing and vocalese. Gates was born and raised in Connecticut, where he started singing at seven and was turned on to jazz by his father, a classical violinist. He studied the guitar at the age of eight and continued to study it until he was 14, but he gave the instrument up when he decided that singing was the best way to express himself musically. As a young adult, Gates...
Full Bio
Centerpiece, Giacomo Gates
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Customer Ratings