Male jazz singers seemed like a endangered species in the '80s and '90s; for every noteworthy male jazz singer who came along, there seemed to be 50 to 100 women who were taking up jazz singing. The very fact that Giacomo Gates was a jazz-singing male in the '90s made you want to at least check him out and satisfy your curiosity, and thankfully, he had solid albums like Fly Rite to back himself up. Joined by trumpeter/flügelhornist Jim Rotondi, pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Ben Riley, the smoky-voiced, expressive Gates brings a saxophone-like approach to bop classics like Thelonious Monk's "Ask Me Now" (for which he embraces Jon Hendricks' lyrics), Horace Silver's "Señor Blues," and Duke Pearson's "Jeannine." Quite adept at scat singing and vocalese, Gates is well-served by such influences as Mark Murphy, King Pleasure, and Eddie Jefferson but makes it clear that he's very much his own man. And Gates' lyrics to Monk's "Epistrophy" and Lee Morgan's "Speedball" let us know that he isn't a bad lyricist either. The singer was in his late forties when this CD was recorded, but he was still quite obscure. One hoped that Fly Rite would make him better known.
Fly Rite Review
by Alex Henderson