Sunday, March 15, 2015

Gato Barbieri In Search of the Mystery

   Gato Barbieri is one of most recognized jazz musicians of seventies and eighties. He became famous for his own characteristic sound of tenor saxophone. It happened before he achieved international fame for his great music for Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Last Tango in Paris, but it was this very movie where his husky expressive timbre became recognizable for millions. He was noted for his music and featured in soundtrack saxophone sound and this achievement became success guiding him to different fields of musical creativity. Long before this moment he was a musician and improviser, who was known for expressive, powerful timbre of his tenor saxophone.
   Leandro Barbieri, known as Gato (meaning “cat” in Spanish) was born in 1932 in Rosario, biggest city of Santa Fe Province. Many of his family were musicians so he was aiming to be the professional artist from his early years. He was playing clarinet, but after he heard Charlie Parker, he switched into alto saxophone. In late fifties he was playing in Buenos Aires with his coeval pianist Lalo Schifrin. In 1962 they played in Rome. He changed into tenor saxophone and started playing with Don Cherry. Later he moved to USA, and played both free jazz and fusion basing on Argentinean tradition. This was the time when he was building his great expressive sound. He was developing some technical ideas of late John Coltrane and sound of Pharoah Sanders. 

Gato Barbieri In Search of the Mystery (1967)

   His debut recording was Menorama released in private pressing in 1960. Then he was published in on Don Cherry records Togetherness (1965), Complete Communion (1966), Live at Jazzhus Montmartre 1966 (1966) and Symphony for Improvisers (1966). In 1967 he was one of side musicians on Gary Burton A Genuine Tong Funeral and two albums of his own In Search of the Mystery released the same year and Obsession, released much later. The style he was playing during these sessions was clearly free jazz with some late John Coltrane and post modal idioms. He is playing with great volume and with wide spectrum of sound. The band of In Search of the Mystery could be the classic free jazz instrumental staff: Gato Barbieri on tenor saxophone, Calo Scott on cello, Norris Jones on bass and Bobby Kapp on drums.
   Late sixties is the time of his own successful album In Search of the Mystery and successful cooperation with leading avant-garde artists Don Cherry, Carla Bley, Michael Mantler, Alan Shorter, Dollar Brand, and Charlie Haden. It’s interesting considering his later career. Six years after In Search of the Mystery he won Grammy for music to the Last Tango in Paris. Starting from radical jazz, he developed huge and powerful sound which became his trademark. After he was hired to write music for cinema, popular tunes and smooth jazz style made him one of most famous musicians from Argentina. This is quite an achievement since this country has a lot of great musicians, poets, writers and artists. Three stars with a half.

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