Giacomo Gates

EC Music Agency



“Mr. Gates is a solid example of a performer who is doing something that no one else does. He evokes an age (that I would hope is not so terribly bygone) when musicians were entertainers and entertainers were musicians, and a sense of humor was as important as a sense of rhythm.”— Will Friedwald

Giacomo Gates does more than sing “a bunch of songs.” He is truly an entertainer, for all ages and styles, as audiences enjoy the music, the interaction on the bandstand between him and his musicians, the spontaneity, the humor, the stories about the music and composers, along with their relation to everyday life. People are smiling, having a good time, while thoroughly enjoying the music. What usually lacks in most of today’s performances is obviously present … fun!

The criteria for defining jazz singing will probably be argued for the rest of time. But no matter which side of the argument one may be on, there can be no doubt that Giacomo Gates is an authentic jazz vocalist. Heavily steeped in the traditions of the original vocal improvisers from Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald through their modern counterparts Betty Carter and Leon Thomas, Giacomo’s own approach draws most heavily from the bebop-rooted masters like Jon Hendricks, Babs Gonzales, King Pleasure and most of all, Eddie Jefferson. Like his influences, Gates has forged his own unique path.

In his own words, “In this kind of music it’s about intention, honesty and what comes through in your voice – the Experience of Life.” Without question, Giacomo’s life experience is unlike any other jazz artist that may come to mind. Blessed with a full-bodied and mellifluous voice, extraordinary rhythmic precision and an unerring sense of lyricism, Gates’ total command of the vernacular, boundless creativity and exuberant passion set him apart from nearly every other vocalist on the scene.

Like his mentors, Gates would sometimes translate great instrumental solos into Vocalese, including the works of Lee Morgan, Chet Baker, Gene Ammons, Charlie Rouse and many others, also penning lyrics to classic jazz compositions. In citing his influences, Giacomo states “Some of my favorite singers are Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster and Lester Young. They were singing through the horn. If that isn’t singing, I don’t know what is!”

From that perspective, Giacomo sometimes vocalizes as an instrument – trombone, flute, bass and even drums. There’s no contrivance or gimmickry for its own sake involved in this, as it’s entirely conceived within the context of the music. Giacomo has also performed with such notables as Jon Hendricks, Lou Donaldson, Freddie Hubbard, Don Friedman, Billy Mitchell, James Spaulding, Eddie Bert, Earl May, Sheila Jordan, Richie Cole, Randy Brecker, Jon Faddis, Hilton Ruiz, and more. His primary focus has been leading his own groups, which has taken him all over the U.S. and other parts of the world.

Playing major U.S. clubs, major festivals and at countless universities and jazz societies, Giacomo’s enormous appeal and popularity are obvious from the many repeat engagements he has had at these venues. He’s also performed and taught in Europe, Russia and Australia.

Gates has eight heavily acclaimed CDs, all charting in the Top 20, with two #1 recordings, for six and four weeks! The most recent release in April 2017, “What Time is it?” on Savant Records (his 4th on Savant), garnering rave reviews and receiving heavy airplay and reaching number 8 on the national jazz radio charts.
“Everything is Cool,” Savant, July 2015, also rave reviews, with heavy national and international airplay as well.

“Milestones – Giacomo Gates Sings the Music of Miles Davis,” garnered rave reviews and topped the National Jazz Radio playlist at #1 for four weeks. “The Revolution Will Be Jazz, the Songs of Gil Scott-Heron, (Savant), was #1 for six weeks on the National Jazz Radio Playlist. Both records spent over three months in the Top 20.
Heavily committed to education, Giacomo teaches at Wesleyan University, and Sacred Heart University, and has conducted workshops and residencies at numerous educational institutions all over the U.S.

Like all seriously committed jazz artists, Giacomo Gates is a student of the music’s great legacy. Known for his interaction with his live audience through witty patter and informative introductions, every performance becomes a lesson in jazz history.
Giacomo’s sheer joy, exuberance, wit and unlimited creativity make him one of jazz’s most compelling artists.

This unequaled vocalese master is a hipster’s hipster and a story teller’s story teller. He’s Lord Buckley and Professor Irwin Cory by way of Eddie Jefferson and Jon Hendricks. Captivating, entertaining, amusing and oh so musical, this cat is absolutely without equal. No matter where he roams the stage, the reviews are almost always the same… ‘Where did this cat come from? He’s absolutely phenomenal!’ And, when he puts his lyrics to Bird’s solos, the magic really begins.
-Frank Malfitano, Exec. Director, Detroit/Ford Jazz Festival

“If the Rolls Royce could sing jazz, it would assuredly sound like Giacomo Gates.”
-Dan Singer, In Tune International
“Gates is one of the most extraordinary singers working in jazz today, the owner of a joyful baritone who has synthesized a host of influences – Eddie Jefferson, Jon Hendricks and Sinatra among them – and turned them into something uniquely his own.”-Glenn Whipp, LA Daily News

“Gates is a talented, skillful, rock solid professional. What makes him truly exceptional is that there is no difference between his work and his life – Jazz is truly his style.” -Stanley Naftaly, Jazz Now

“Not many people can master this music, but Giacomo Gates has. He’s an important man.” -Jon Hendricks, Sunday NY Times Feature

“Giacomo Gates has established himself as a member in good standing of the ever-so-exclusive club of male jazz singers.” -Tom Ineck, Kansas City Star

“He has the ability to get to a tune’s essence in a way that perhaps its composer couldn’t, something Billie Holiday was noted for in her many interpretations of banal pop material.” -Richard Meyer, Espresso Jazz

“Giacomo Gates is simply, quite unique.” -Bob Agnew, LA Jazz Scene

“It’s loose and jazzy, when Giacomo Gates takes the stage, and you’re in for a treat. He tells stories, makes sounds like a trombone, sings, scats, declares homage to King Pleasure and Eddie Jefferson and makes no bones about it.”
-Dick Crockett, 88.7 Sacramento, CA

“Giacomo Gates is one of the top male jazz singers around today. His scat singing, use of Vocalese and bebop attitude plant him as a successor to Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure and Dave Lambert.” -Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene

“Jazz vocalist and terminal hipster Giacomo Gates just keeps getting better and better.” -Joe Lang, New Jersey Jazz Society

“Giacomo Gates, jazz troubadour, worldly wise and grand master of scat and Vocalese, is one of the jazz world’s finest living exemplars of true grit.”
-Owen McNalley, Hartford, Courant

“I heard him in person a few years back at the Red Lion, downtown Portland. I thought he was something unique and special then. I’ve never wavered in that opinion.” -Dr. Kirby Allen, Portland Jazz Society

“I have enjoyed hearing your new CD “Centerpiece.” It’s so refreshing to actually hear the words and understand the lyrics, all to a swinging beat.” -Dave Brubeck

“Gates convinced me that he’s not only a master at singing inventive bebop lines and lyrics, but straight-ahead ballads as well. His enunciation is crisp and clear, his baritone voice rich, true and musical. He’s always got a sense of humor in his voice, and he swings.” -Phillip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner

“Singer Giacomo Gates has mastered baritone bravado; he has a lovely deep sound, and matches that with a deep affection for Jazz.” -Bill Bennett, JazzTimes

“Gates is more that a jazz singer. He’s a musician, a hornman who ‘plays’ through a wonderfully weathered baritone voice. He’s also a storyteller, a traveler who’s seen and lived a lot of life. It’s a combination that gives his performance an unusually deep emotional and musical resonance. Giacomo Gates just may be the Dennis Hopper of vocal Jazz.” -Chuck Berg, Topeka Journal

“Gates sang the daylights out of some Jazz classics, and just when you thought Gates couldn’t top himself, he delivered Lord Buckley’s ‘Soliloquy to Caesar’ and the smoothest ‘Scotch and Soda’ imaginable.” -Bill Berensmann, Taconic News

“With an Italian name and the voice of a crooner, the music of Giacomo Gates always pleases. This singer interprets the standards with much humor and freshness. At last, here is distinctive vocal Jazz.” –



Being a good jazz vocalist isn’t easy, and simply releasing a CD doesn’t prove competence. More than some genres, a voice that’s technically good is almost a requirement. There are exceptions, but in this particular genre you don’t find too many with an instrument like Leonard Cohen’s. There’s also the question of material. When it comes to the Great American Songbook, it’s hard to give a fresh spin to tunes that were already popular in the first half of the 20th Century and never faded into obscurity. Usually the fault lies in the interpretations rather than the choices, with musicians creating uninspired arrangements of obvious material in a sad effort to seem relevant. Giacomo Gates avoids all of these pitfalls. He has a warm, intimate sound with the technical chops to do whatever he wants to with his voice and benefits from tasteful and uncluttered arrangements that allow him to draw in the listener with ingratiating humor, emotional insight, subtlety and exemplary musicianship. With John di Martino at the piano and Jerry Weldon’s tenor sax out in front, the results never feel stilted and in fact Gates comes across as one of the most distinctive singers on the scene. His unique sense of phrasing and insinuating manner of delivering lyrics to songs like “On a Misty Night,” “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” and “A Few Bucks Ahead” help assure him a place among today’s top vocalists.

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