May 29, 2024

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Interview with Giacomo Gates։ I have no idea. That would take pages and pages from jubilation to despair! Video

Jazz interview with jazz vocalist Giacomo Gates․ An interview by email in writing. – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music.

Giacomo Gates: – I grew up in Bridgeport, CT.  I heard classical and big band music played in the home, and my father played violin…not professionally, tho very well.  I became interested and studied guitar at the age of eight.   Early cartoons had sound tracks by Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Fletcher Henderson…I’m sure that was also an influence. Altho I grew up in the time of rhythm & blues, and rock ‘n roll, I was fortunately introduce to and interested in the Great American Songbook and the music referred to as Jazz.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

GG: – I listen to the greats, to be influenced and learn from, and try to sound like myself…everyone else is taken.  In tune and in time, with resonance.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

GG: – I sing, I teach, and I listen.

JBN: – How do you keep stray, or random, musical influences from diverting you from what you’re doing?

GG: – I listen to what I consider to be ‘good music.’

JBN: – How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

GG: – Some folks call it practice, some call it rehearsal … I call it repetition. There is no forcing myself…if I didn’t love what I do, I wouldn’t be doing it.  Performances are spontaneaous.

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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

GG: – I have no idea … I’m sure it’s different for everyone, and I don’t try to examine what takes place… it may differ, depending on the circumstance.  Much too cerebral and academic for me.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

GG: – There is certainly an energy transfer, tho I have no idea what they collectively long for…who can?  I try to be honest with what I sing, and hopefully they have felt the same emotions…whether that is humor, pathos, loss, exuberance, or just plain fun.

JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years?

GG: – That would take pages and pages … from jubilation to despair!  Hah!  It’s all a learning experience and each situation brings something unique.  Experience is the best teacher, tho the tuition is very high.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

GG: – Once someone, any age, hears something like the Count Basie Orchestra… or Lambert, Hendricks & Ross…or Dexter Gordon, what’s not to like?  Exposure to the music works… tho not always easily accessed.  One has to look for it, or be turned onto it.

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

GG: – I’ll leave that one to Camus, Nietzsche, Sartre, Socrates, and Plato.

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

GG: – Discerning ears.

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

GG: – Everyone who left a mark in the music is interesting to me … I listen reed, brass, string, percussion players and singers.  The Music of Thelonious Monk has always been a favorite … especially with Charlie Rouse…

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

GG: – Music is supposed to make one feel something … that covers many emotions. Audiences are out to have a good time.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

GG: – I’m not sure … I had a great time a few weeks ago, right here! New York City, 1950. Copenhagen, 1960. Los Angeles, 1962. Rome, 1970 Paris, 1955. Musically and sociologically.

JBN: – So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…

GG: – Unless you can give me the winning lottery ticket number, or who will win the Kentucky Derby, I’m good.

Many of your questions are very ‘existential’… I try not to ‘go there’ because to me, the music is visceral and emotional … so I’d like to be free enough to answer with a sense of humor, along with some information.  A famous quote…with credit given to Martin Mull, Frank Zappa and a few others … ’Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.

JBN: – It’s very difficult to explain this to you, maybe it’s a generational difference, but those who follow music today value the musician’s intelligence in addition to skill, because if he didn’t have intelligence, nothing would work, as in your case.

JBN: – At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?

GG: – I hope your many readers will get some information, have a few grins. I’d like to thank you for your interest and energy.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Acclaimed Jazz Vocalist Giacomo Gates at Ball & Chain - YouTube

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