Giacomo Gates – The Revolution Will Be Jazz (The Songs of Gil Scott-Heron) – Savant Records

by | Aug 2, 2011 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Giacomo Gates – The Revolution Will Be Jazz (The Songs of Gil Scott-Heron) – Savant Records SCD 2116, 50:04 ****:

(Giacomo Gates – vocals; John Di Martino – piano, whistling (track 7); Tony Lombardozzi – guitar; Lonnie Plaxico – bass; Vincent Ector – drums; Claire Daly – baritone sax (Track2), flute (Track 7))

Giacomo Gates was a late starter in the professional world of jazz.  He was discovered while he was living and working in Alaska.  Sarah Vaughan was there on a performance and heard him.  She encouraged him to get back to the east coast where he would have a better chance at getting to be a known artist.  He moved to Connecticut where he was raised so he could access New York City.  Giacomo has a baritone voice with character that once you hear it he is so recognizable.  His sidemen on his recordings are very top class in ability.  Included in his vocals is his form of scat and vocalese in the style of Eddie Jefferson again with his distinct voice making him very recognizable.  He sings jazz with a very cool swinging style.

The Revolution Will Be Jazz is a tribute album to mostly Gil Scott-Heron of which there are eight compositions on this album and Brian Jackson of which there are two.  This pair became known as part of the social revolution period of the seventies and eighties and delivered in song their concerns for the world as they saw it.  Gil was a musician who specialized in American soul, jazz and was a poet.  He was primarily known for his work as a spoken word performer in the 1970s and 1980s, and for his collaborative works with musician Brian Jackson.  Sadly Gil passed away May 27, 2011 before this album was released.

Gil was very descriptive of some of the ills of life with startling clarity.  Giacomo sings the lyrics with good delivery and clarity that is very good.  He sings very clearly on this spoken word type music.  When he breaks into his scat and vocalese it is a punctuation to the thought coming through the lyrics.  The jazz?  Well it is just simply great. Giacomo sings expressively whether it swings, is a ballad or blues.

I particularly enjoyed “Lady Day and John Coltrane” and its message.  It was Gil’s idea for this title because these two performers were on the cutting edge of their craft as innovators.  We could look to them for their music to make our troubles go away.  It has a really good beat with mostly bass, guitar and drums carrying the main line.  “Madison Avenue” was a real crack up for me as Gil nailed the advertising game for what it is.  Giacomo lays it down like it is.  It starts out with a blues line, then goes into a bridge that swings followed by more blues sound instrumentals by piano, bass, guitar with drums.  “Is That Jazz” is a cool sound starting with an intro with drums and bass walking.  Giacomo comes in with vocals about different comments about Basie, Byrd, Billie and on but is that jazz was the question.  Very cool, very great descriptive lyrics.  “New York City” is a very interesting combination of rhythms between ballad blues with a quick paced bridge and back to the blues.  The lyrics are special as a description by Gil of his take on New York City.

The Revolution Will Be Jazz
is well laid out with good music and lyrics.  It has a message.  The sound quality of the recording is excellent.  There are good liner notes that explain the album and its message, written by producer Mark Ruffin.

  Show Business; This is a Prayer for Everybody To Be Free; Lady Day and John Coltrane; Legend In His Own Mind; Madison Avenue; Gun; Winter In America; Is That Jazz; New York City; It’s Your World.

— Tim Taylor

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