Favorite

Review: James "Saxsmo" Gates at the Capital Ale House (May 14) 

Nobody does what Gates does better than Gates. In front of a near-capacity crowd at the Capital Ale House (slightly delayed by the need to clear the room of a crowd still buzzing from the sold-out first set) he soars, preaches, rocks and reflects through a full-throttle 90-minute set drawn from his new CD “Gates Wide Open.”

The saxophonist establishes his mainstream jazz chops early on with a blazing version of Chick Corea’s “Spain,” but straightforward communication is more Gate’s thing than sophisticated harmonic acrobatics. As the set develops through funky workouts and lyrical interludes -- including a “I Cry Out for You” written for his late mother and played seated at stage edge, feet dangling like a little boy’s from a grown-up chair -- categorization seemed beside the point. As much James Brown as Charlie Parker, Gates pours heart and soul into his playing with such charismatic commitment that you can’t dislike his music without disliking him. And with his ready smile, boundless energy and joyful willingness to dive into the audience with his horn to embrace everyone in the creative process, disliking him is something he simply won’t let you do.

Gates’ rollicking attack is supported by a backing band doubled in almost every category: two percussionists, two pianists, two guitars, along with trumpet and bass. All were from Richmond, each gets their turn in the spotlight and each is celebrated by Gates as exemplars of local talent too often taken for granted. The same can be said of the just-a-bit-larger-than-life Gates.

Favorite

Latest in Music

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Peter McElhinney

Connect with Style Weekly

Most Popular Stories

  • A Better Friends Reunion

    A Better Friends Reunion

    For those who fondly remember Best Friends Day, now there’s a yearbook of wild photographic memories.
    • Jun 16, 2021
  • Toast of the Town

    Toast of the Town

    Butcher Brown celebrates a string of hard-earned victories as headliner at the final Friday Cheers concert of 2021.
    • Jun 16, 2021
  • An Oasis in Charlottesville

    An Oasis in Charlottesville

    A Richmond export, the Quirk Hotel, takes root in the Piedmont.
    • May 18, 2021
  • Dancing with the Ancestors

    Dancing with the Ancestors

    Elegba Folklore Society’s Juneteenth holiday celebrates its 25th anniversary.
    • Jun 16, 2021
  • More »

Copyright © 2021 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation