KCC Productions and the Van Dyke Cafe present Giacomo Gates and the Danny Burger Trio 3/24/11

KCC Productions and the Van Dyke Cafe present Giacomo Gates and the Danny Burger Trio
Thursday March 24, at 9 PM
The Van Dyke is located at 846
Lincoln Road
South Beach.
For more information, call (305) 534-3600 or visit thevandykecafe.com.

Giacomo Gates approaches jazz singing with a showman’s poise and an aficionado’s zeal. Holding court on Wednesday night in the mezzanine lounge of the Kitano New York Hotel, he was solicitous but cool. He wanted to let his listeners in on a secret, bring them into his confidence. With his deep, cognac baritone and his vintage-hipster lexicon, he seemed an appreciative throwback, eager to share credit with his precursors while mindful of keeping a little for himself.

Opening with “Melodious Funk,” a medium-bright swinger from his most recent album, “Luminosity” (G88), Mr. Gates laid out his core principles from the start: sporty syncopations, nimble turns of phrase, sure-footed scat choruses. His stage manner conveyed a muted but stout physicality, perhaps as a byproduct of his experience. (Before turning full time to jazz in 1990, he spent more than a dozen years in heavy construction, working on the Trans-Alaska pipeline, among other things.) In his phrasing and his bearing, he upheld a distinctly masculine ideal of deceptive nonchalance.

Mr. Gates has made a specialty out of vocalese, the jazz practice of setting original lyrics to a musician’s improvisations. It is probably no accident that his vocal timbre can evoke Eddie Jefferson, a pioneer in the style. Backed more than capably here by the pianist John di Martino and the bassist Steve LaSpina, Mr. Gates made a point of finessing Jefferson’s “Disappointed,” based on a Charlie Parker solo over Gershwin’s “Lady Be Good.” He also made a point of featuring some lyrical inventions of his own.

Wisely, he slipped a pair of songbook ballads into the set — “P.S. I Love You” and “You’ve Changed” — and each was a model of austere, straightforward pathos. And he closed with a winner: Monk’s “Let’s Call This,” with original lyrics about the dwindling flame of a love affair.

“When I first met you / You were so inviting,” Mr. Gates sang at the tune’s start, articulating clearly. He held out the last syllable, “ing,” for five and a half beats, echoing the jangle of Monk’s pianism, and expecting everyone to get it.

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