Argentine sax player Gato Barbieri is a Latin jazz legend and one of the first musicians to fuse jazz with a number of Latin rhythms that were not Afro-Cuban. ...MORE >
Argentine sax player Gato Barbieri is a Latin jazz legend and one of the first musicians to fuse jazz with a number of Latin rhythms that were not Afro-Cuban.
Gato's musical career experienced a number of stages. During the '60s, he explored avant-garde jazz, influenced by the experimental tendencies of Ornette Coleman. In the early '70s, he integrated his own musical background (South American formats like tango and Brazilian beats) into jazz. In 1972, his soundtrack to the Bernardo Bertolucci film Last Tango in Paris gained him worldwide attention. In the mid '70s, he devoted himself to jazz fusion, recording his most commercially successful albums between 1977 and 1979.
A contract with the A&M label in the U.S. led to a series of softer sounding albums in the pop-jazz vein. With “Bahia”, Gato moved to a more intense, rock-influenced sound-- seeped in South American roots. This is one of the rarest albums in Gato's discography. There are still elements of pop and r&b to be found here, but they do not dominate the session. Released in 1982 under the title Gato, “Bahia” was issued by the famous Fania label and produced by Teo Macero and Jay Chataway (the famous duo responsible for several Maynard Ferguson albums).
Gato was able to recruit top notch musicians such as Joe Beck, whose guitar has graced the recordings of stars such as Miles Davis. The incredibly prolific Buddy Williams worked with the fusion bands of Bob James, George Duke, Dave Valentine, and David Sanborn. A percussionist who feels equally at home with both Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian music, Frankie Colón has performed with Weather Report, Tania Maria, Flora Purim, and Airto Moreira.
“Bahia” gave Gato Barbieri the opportunity to pour his heart out. Listen to his passionate vocal expressions in between solos. He is having so much fun that he cannot help himself but shout.
The guitars, played by Beck and Dave Spinozza, are at the forefront of the music in some of the tracks here ("Memories" and "Playtime" in particular.) The result is a harder Latin rock edge that was absent from Barbieri’s previous fusion albums. “Alma,” on the other hand, is closer to the style known today as smooth jazz. Gato is thought to be one of the pioneers of this subgenre. He was one of the first musicians to use Latin rhythms and themes in smooth jazz.
“Retorno” is pure fun and driving fusion with elements of soul and r&b-- and solid Latin percussion in the background. “Mowgli” begins with a Middle Eastern Iberian tinge, and develops into a Latin jazz fusion. Barbieri recruits two stellar Brazilian musicians for the samba flavored tracks: percussionist Guillermo Franco and Portinho on drums. “Bahia/Sweet Emiliano” begins with the famous melody of Ary Barroso's classic Brazilian song. Gato’s unmistakably melodic sax lines build up the tempo. As the song develops, Gato’s sax becomes more strident-- he is a master of contrasts, switching from the coarse and abrasive to the gentle and expressive, from melodic and smooth to the strident notes which reflect his avant-garde origins.
Gato Barbieri achieved what most saxophone players can only dream of: a unique sound. He is one of the best from a long line of superb Argentine jazzmen. Bahia had been out of print for too long. Fortunately, it has now been remastered for its inclusion in any comprehensive collection of Gato's masterpieces.
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