Mike Gates

Mike Gates’ Best of 2019:

1. Dr. Mark Lomax, II – 400: An Afrikan Epic (CFG Multimedia)

2. Nat Birchall – The Storyteller: A Musical Tribute to Yusef Lateef (Jazzman)

3. Bridges with Seamus Blake – Continuum (AMP Music & Records)

4. Plume – Escaping the Dark Side (jazz&people)

5. Muriel Grossmann – Reverence (RR Gems/Dreamlandrecords)

6. Ethan Iverson Quartet with Tom Harrell – Common Practice (ECM)

7. Liam Noble – The Long Game (Edition)

8. Tom Syson – Different Coloured Days (Self-released)

9. Julian Lage – Love Hurts (Mack Avenue)

10. Esbjörn Svensson Trio – Live in Gothenburg (ACT Music)

11. Espen Berg Trio – Free To Play (Odin)

12. Szabolcs Oláh Quintet – Crystal Book (Self-released)

13. Kit Downes – Dreamlife of Debris (ECM)

14. Rebecca Nash/Atlas – Peaceful King (Whirlwind Recordings)

15. Adam Rudolph’s Go Organic Orchestra – Ragmala (Meta)

16. Crosscurrents Trio [Dave Holland / Zakir Hussain / Chris Potter] – Good Hope (Edition)

17. Enrico Rava / Joe Lovano – Roma (ECM)

18. Anton Eger – Æ (Edition)

19. Andy Hay – Many Rivers (Self-released)

20. Mike Walker – Ropes (Market Square)

I was 8 or 9 years old when I bought my first record. Even to this day, it is still one of the most vivid memories I have… It was a Chuck Berry album. I’d seen him on the TV and thought Wow! Who is this guy? I don’t remember my family being particularly musical, apart from my Dad playing Sinatra endlessly into the night, I guess for me Chuck Berry was the beginning of a love affair, an obsession even, with music. So on that fateful day, my Dad took me to Woolworths and there it was: 12″ bright and shiny Chuck Berry. I’d saved my pennies for weeks; the anticipation, the energy, the pull was so strong I was shaking with excitement. Then I realised I was a few pence short… Oh no! The devastation I felt is beyond words. “Go on then” said my Dad, “here’s the rest of the money you need.” Yes!

And so it had begun. Over the next couple of years I had discovered Elvis, Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Bo Diddley and the greatest in my mind; Jerry Lee Lewis. Oh yes, and Showaddywaddy… cut me some slack here though, I was only 11. It was in my early teens that the voyage of discovery really began. After brief flirtations with punk, ska, heavy rock etc, it was with a close friend at school, led on by his dope-smoking errant uncle, that led us on to our next journey. By the age of 16, we were heavily into the UK and American folk/singer-songwriter scene. My vinyl collection was rapidly growing, my pockets rapidly emptying. Roy Harper, John Martyn, Nick Drake, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Terry Callier, all becoming not just firm favourites, but an integral part of our lives. That’s what music does to us you see, it becomes a living, breathing part of us that no-one can ever take away. It was, perhaps inevitably, during this time that I first picked up a guitar and started to strum. I had found my freedom. This was my place to be. I began writing songs, performing live and recording… a love affair that still burns brightly, even if not so regularly these days.

The next pivotal moment came when I was 17. The drummer in my band was also a jazz devotee. I’d never taken much of an interest in jazz or classical music up to this point, (it was only later I was to realise and understand the influences jazz and classical music had already had on me through some of the music I was already listening to). Said drummer was part of a jazz quartet, so one evening I ventured into Birmingham to the Victoria pub to see them perform. Leading the band was a 14-year-old alto saxophonist. We were introduced. His name: Chris Bowden. And therein began a life long friendship and a new adventure: Jazz. I was soon making new, exciting discoveries; Pat Metheny, Weather Report, Michael Brecker, Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Charles Lloyd, and on it goes…

Writing this has made me realise something. Although it doesn’t quite match those heady days of searching out new music, long-lost albums, getting up early to travel to record fairs just to try to find that elusive album missing from my collection… since I started reviewing for UK Vibe in January 2015, I have rediscovered the excitement of what it is to be surprised and invigorated by hearing something new and unexpected. And to listen properly again… To take it all in and enjoy it. Talking/writing about someone else’s music can be a challenging task, but ultimately, and surprisingly, I find it an enjoyable, rewarding experience.

These days I don’t get to gig or record as much, but new life has recently been injected into these bones and I can now be seen and heard performing live with my daughter, Kia. She has a bright future ahead of her, hopefully in the world of music, but for now, she settles for the odd gig with her old man. Over the years I’ve had many bands, possibly the most memorable being a 9 piece folk/jazz outfit featuring Chris Bowden on saxes and Joe Murphy on violin. And on the odd occasion, I have been seen strutting my stuff as my alter-ego Rockabilly hipster Captain Jive and his Pink Secrets! Other info/interests?… On a professional level I have just about paid for the daily bread running Kingate Press, a Birmingham based printing company. We now also operate a cd/dvd printing and manufacturing business.

Interests: Food, guitars, drink, guitars, wife and 2 kids, guitars, my dogs, guitars, sci-fi, guitars, reading and writing, guitars, movies, and oh yes… Hmm, well you know what they say, you can never have too many guitars. And lamb jalfrezi, you can never have too much of that either. And Hobgoblin ale, you can never… I’ll go now. Our leader has just sent me another 20 albums to listen to and review… There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Mike Gates’ Best of 2018:

1. Jamie Saft Quartet – Blue Dream (RareNoise)
Review here

2. Muriel Grossmann – Golden Rule (RR Gems)
Review here

3. JD Allen – Love Stone (Savant)

4. Ayanda Sikade – Movements (Self-released)
Review here

5. Brad Mehldau Trio – Seymour Reads The Constitution! (Nonesuch)

6. Nat Birchall – Cosmic Language (Jazzman)
Review here

7. Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth (Young Turks)

8. Ill Considered – 3 (Ill Considered Music)
Review here

9. Snowpoet – Thought You Knew (Edition)
Review here

10. Sinsuke Fujieda – Hyper Harmony (SoFa)

11. Julian Siegel Quartet – Vista (Whirlwind Recordings)
Review here

12. Binker and Moses – Alive In The East? (Gearbox)
Review here

13. Bruno Råberg Trio – Tailwind (Red Piano)
Review here

14. Adrien Chicot – City Walk (Gaya Music Production)
Review here

15. Andreas Varady – The Quest (Resonance)

16. Joe Lovano/Dave Douglas Sound Prints – Scandal (Greenleaf Music)

17. Woven Entity – Two (Enid)
Review here

18. Marcin Wasilewski Trio – Live (ECM)
Review here

19. Espen Eriksen Trio with Andy Sheppard – Perfectly Unhappy (Rune Grammofon)
Review here

20. Bill Frisell – Music IS (Okeh/Music On Vinyl)
Review here

Mike Gates’ Best of 2017:

1. Shahin Novrasli – Emanation (Jazz Village)

2. Angles 9 – Disappeared Behind The Sun (Clean Feed)

3. Khaled Kurbeh And Raman Khalef Ensemble – Aphorisms (Between Buttons)

4. Uri Gurvich – Kinship (Jazz Family)

5. Rob Luft – Riser (Edition)

6. Terje Rypdal – Bleak House [2017 Reissue] (Round 2)

7. Anouar Brahem – Blue Maquams (ECM)

8. Nitin Sawhney – Live at Ronnie Scott’s (Gearbox)

9. Robert Mitchell – A Vigil For Justice, A Vigil For Peace (Depth Of Field)

10. Minco Eggersman – Kavkasia (Volkoren)

11. JD Allen – Radio Flyer (Savant)

12. Jamie Saft Trio – Loneliness Road (RareNoise)

13. Charles Lloyd New Quartet – Passin’ Thru (Blue Note)

14. DeJohnette/Grenadier/Medeski/Scofield – Hudson (Motéma)

15. Adrien Chicot – Playing In The Dark (Gaya Music Production)

16. Collocutor – The Search (On The Corner)

17. Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet – Jersey (AGATE/Motéma)

18. Daniel Herskedal – The Roc (Edition)

19. Cat Toren’s Human Kind (Private Press)

20. Tony Tixier – Life Of Sensitive Creatures (Whirlwind Recordings)

Mike Gates’ Best of 2016:

1. Kenneth Dahl Knudsen Orchestra – We’ll Meet in the Rain (Two Rivers) Review here

2. Nat Birchall – Creation (Sound Soul and Spirit) Review here

3. Bänz Oester & The Rainmakers – Ukuzinikela [Live in Willisau] (Enja Yellowbird) Review here

4. Avishai Cohen – Into The Silence (ECM) Review here

5. Myele Manzanza – OnePointOne [Live at The Blue Whale] (First Word)

6. Yusef Lateef – Live at Ronnie Scott’s, 15th January 1966 (Gearbox) Review here

7. Hans Koller – Retrospection (Stoney Lane) Review here

8. Robert Stillman – Rainbow (Orinda) Review here

9. Aleif Hamdan – Emblem (Private Press) Review here

10. Keith Jarrett – A Multitude of Angels (ECM) Review here

11. Alchemy Sound Project – Further Explorations (Artists Recording Collective)

12. Empirical – Connection (Cuneiform) Review here

13. Arnan Raz – Second to the Left (Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit) Review here

14. Sarathy Korwar – Day to Day (Ninja Tune / Steve Reid Foundation) Review here

15. Shabaka and the Ancestors – Wisdom of Elders (Brownswood) Review here

16. Benjamin Faugloire Project – Birth (Jazz Family) Review here

17. Frekvens Frekvens – Vandborg (Jaeger Community Music) Review here

18. Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra – Time/Life (Impulse!)

19. Nduduzo Makhathini – Icilongo [The African Peace Suite] (Gundu) Review here

20. Leandro Kalén – Mecánica Celeste (PAI)

Mike Gates’ Best of 2015:

1. Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet – Family First (Beat Music Productions) Review here

2. Nat Birchall – Invocations (Jazzman) Review here

3. Charles Lloyd – Wild Man Dance (Blue Note) Review here

4. Ibrahim Maalouf – Kalthoum (Impulse!)

5. Géraud Portal & Etienne Déconfin – Brothers (Gaya Music Production) Review here

6. Verneri Pohjola – Bullhorn (Edition) Review here

7. Kamasi Washington – The Epic (Brainfeeder) Review here

8. Brad Mehldau – 10 Years Solo Live (Nonesuch) Review here

9. Lage Lund – Idlewild (Criss Cross Jazz) Review here

10. Brian Ellis Group – Escondido Sessions (El Paraiso) Review here

11. Emanative – The Light Years of The Darkness (Steve Reid Foundation/Brownswood) Review here

12. Gael Horellou – Synthesis (DTC) Review here

13. Makaya McCraven – In The Moment (International Anthem) Review here

14. Jan Prax Quartett – Keepin’ A Style Alive (ACT) Review here

15. Antonio Sanchez & Migration – The Meridian Suite (CAM Jazz) Review here

16. Artyom Manukyan – Citizen (Ghost Note) Review here

17. Kenny Wheeler – Songs for Quintet (ECM) Review here

18. Rotem Sivan Trio – A New Dance (Fresh Sound New Talent) Review here

19. Snarky Puppy with Metropole Orkest – Sylva (Impulse!) Review here

20. Jean Marc Padovani – Motian in Motion (Naïve Jazz) Review here

Astral Travelling Since 1993