In Conversation with . . . Giacomo Gates, Part I arrives to introduce the musicians. He then presents Giacomo Gates.

Giacomo mounts the stage, folds his lanky frame onto a wooden bar stool, politely gives Bruce and John a song and a key, and launches into a standard. The experience of seeing and hearing him live after having listened to his recordings for a week is like walking from a closet into an arena. The man is a natural performer and his voice is better suited to spaces than to audio recordings.

And in the one area that makes jazz performance so delightful to watch—that of group rapport—this little group is a joy to observe. Giacomo signals solos and whispers song titles and keys as Funkhouser grins his approval of a particularly sweet bit of singing. We hear the mounting mutual approval in the piano keys and bass strings, and even in Giacomo’s singing as he’s egged on by ever more witty and energized playing.

During the intermission I ask Gertz and Funkhouser how long they’ve been playing with Giacomo. John looks at his watch and smiles: “Just over an hour.”


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