Another extraordinary vocal stylist we never hear enough from is Giacomo Gates. He’s often and accurately credited as a contemporary Eddie Jefferson, but with his full-bodied baritone and blazing inventiveness he sounds like the love child of Billy Eckstine and Kurt Elling. As bracing an innovator as he is an interpreter, Gates transforms his third studio album, Centerpiece (Origin), into a cornucopia of delicacies that extends from a smooth, mellow “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” and an appropriately foggy “Scotch and Soda” to a “Milestones” as magnificent as Mark Murphy’s and a razor-sharp blend of “Lester Leaps In” and Jefferson’s “I Got the Blues” that single-handedly captures all the be-boppin’ majesty of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. His “Lady Bird” is flawlessly navigated, his “I Told You I Love You, Now Get Out” packs as much sass as Anita O’Day’s and his “All of Me” nods to both Illinois Jacquet and King Pleasure.
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