The Ray Gelato Giants bid farewell at The 100 Club.
The Ray Gelato Giants made their final appearance at London's 100 Club on Saturday 16 December 2000 for the venue's annual Christmas Party. The main man Ray Gelato is now resident in the United States, and will be returning there soon.
Ray Gelato strolls through the crowd
As the fates would have it, this gig was the night after the club had seen the triumphant return of another showman, Mike Sanchez, formerly of The Big Town Playboys. Following his successful stint in Florida with US band Swingerhead, Gelato is returning there on January 8. His final gigs in the UK will be at Pizza On The Park in Knightsbridge, a non-dance dinner venue. After that, you can catch him at The Blue Room on Wednesday 10 January and then every Friday and Saturday at Peter Scott's Supper Club in Orlando, Florida
The band seemed determined to make this a party night to remember. The club was standing room only, and dancing inevitably meant bumping into onlookers. The line-up was the same as usual, with the exception of Tom Gordon, described by Gelato as "The Hibernian Hurricane" on drums. This was something of an exchange programme, as former drummer Steve Rushton had appeared a few weeks earlier at C Jam Swing with Gordon's usual band, 9.20 Deluxe.
Ably backed as always by Andy Baker on trombone and Enrico Tomasso on trumpet, Ray Gelato was introduced by his faithful sax sideman Alex Garnett, in his role as Master of Ceremonies. All the favourites were played, together with some Christmas tunes. White Christmas and Winter Wonderland were in the repertoire tonight, as well as Let The Good Times Roll, inexplicably described by Gelato as a Christmas song.
Enrico Tomasso was a tour de force on Duke Ellington's Solitude. Drummer Tom Gordon had his moment - well, several of them actually - during a Sing Sing Sing-type workout that sparked a spontaneous jam session by the back bar.
So why the departure, Ray? "It's all going well for me over there" said the Giants' front man "But I will come back if there's work for me here". That's down to bass player Clark Kent, who also acts as manager for the band. "We'll see how it goes" Kent commented, "Ray's father is American, so he doesn't have to worry about a Green Card, because he already has a US passport".
It's been a good year in the UK for gigs and events, but there have also been some regrets. The departure of Ray Gelato to The States, following on so closely from the demise of The Echoes of Ellington Orchestra, is a reason to be not quite so cheerful. While wishing him the best for his American sojourn, let's hope there's enough work to tempt Ray Gelato back to these shores in 2001.
You can read more about The Ray Gelato Giants on this site in the Shows and Records sections, and also on their own site at Raygelato.com
© 2000 Andrew Winton.
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