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Gato Barbieri

Gato Barbieri is the second Argentine musician to make a significant impact upon modern jazz -- the first being Lalo Schifrin, in whose band Barbieri played as a teenager. His story has been that of an elongated zigzag odyssey between his homeland and North America. He started out playing to traditional Latin rhythms in his early years, turning his back on his heritage to explore the jazz avant-garde in the '60s, reverting to South American influences in the early '70s, playing pop and fusion in the late '70s, only to go back and forth again in the '80s. North American audiences first heard Barbieri when he was a wild bull, sporting a coarse, wailing John Coltrane/Pharoah Sanders-influenced tone. Yet by the mid-'70s, his approach and tone began to mellow somewhat in accordance with ballads like "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes" (which he always knew as the vintage bolero "Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado") and Carlos Santana's "Europa." Still, regardless of the idiom in which he works, the warm-blooded Barbieri has always been one of the most overtly emotional tenor sax soloists on record, occasionally driving the voltage ever higher with impulsive vocal cheerleading.

Though Barbieri's family included several musicians, he did not take up an instrument until the age of 12 when a hearing of Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time" encouraged him to study the clarinet. Upon moving to Buenos Aires in 1947, he continued private music lessons, picked up the alto sax, and by 1953 had become a prominent national musician through exposure in the Schifrin orchestra. Later in the '50s, Barbieri started leading his own groups, switching to tenor sax. After moving to Rome in 1962 with his Italian-born wife, he met Don Cherry in Paris the following year and, upon joining his group, became heavily absorbed in the jazz avant-garde. Barbieri also played with Mike Mantler's Jazz Composers' Orchestra in the late '60s; you can hear his fierce tone unleashed in the "Hotel Overture" of Carla Bley's epic work "Escalator Over the Hill."

Yet after the turn of the next decade, Barbieri experienced a slow change of heart and began to reincorporate and introduce South American melodies, instruments, harmonies, textures, and rhythm patterns into his music. Albums such as the live El Pampero on Flying Dutchman and the four-part Chapter series on Impulse -- the latter of which explored Brazilian and Afro-Cuban rhythms and textures, as well as Argentine -- brought Barbieri plenty of acclaim in the jazz world and gained him a following on American college campuses.

However, it was a commercial accident, his sensuous theme and score for the controversial film Last Tango in Paris in 1972, that made Barbieri an international star and a draw at festivals in Montreux, Newport, Bologna, and other locales. A contract with A&M in the U.S. led to a series of softer pop/jazz albums in the late '70s, including the brisk-selling Caliente! He returned to a more intense, rock-influenced, South American-grounded sound in 1981 with the live Gato...Para los Amigos under the aegis of producer Teo Macero, before doubling back to pop/jazz on Apasionado. Yet his profile in the U.S. was diminished later in the decade in the wake of the buttoned-down neo-bop movement.

Beset by triple-bypass surgery and bereavement over the death of his wife, Michelle, who was his closest musical confidant, Barbieri was inactive through much of the 1990s. But he returned to action in 1997, playing with most of his impassioned intensity, if limited in ideas, at the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles and recording a somewhat bland album, Que Pasa, for Columbia. Che Corazon followed in 1999.

As the 21st Century opened, Barbieri saw a steady stream of collections and reissues of his work appear. A new album, Shadow of the Cat, appeared from Peak Records in 2002. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

There is only one Gato, his music speaks of sensuality and passion like no one can duplicate.
He has always brought out the love and sexiness of the sax....melt. . . . .
His music is indescribabl y sexy and beautiful my faves are Europa and Michelle!
anna.martine z 6
In the late 70's saw him In Austin, then ran into him the following day in the bar at the Driscoll. His music remains intense and full of passion. Que viva Gato!
Gato's music was always sexy! This song especially touched my heart, asked my favorite DJ to play it on-air for my husband when he died.
Hi it a love song
Dazzling! Que viva Gato.
Yes he's the man.
usmcjose1
Gatos the Man ..
cinnamon.mg4 7
Blow it up Gato!
Sultry and Sexy. You are immediately swept away to a cool summer night on a beach somewhere in Brazil...... Europa is the best.
Luv him since the 70s!!!!!!!
First heard Europa in the late 80's and it still sends chills through my body today!! Yes, perfect bedroom track!!!! :)
His style of playing the sax is like no one else! You can always tell its Gato!
Europa...... . t o me the very best song for the bedroom..... . y o u know exactly what I mean!
Love Gato!!! His music is timeless...E u r o p a is my favorite track from the cd. Gato's sax is so smooth and sleek...I see why they call him the "Cat" "Gato" in Espanol...
OMG, I loooove this song! This has soooo much feeling in it...it runs all through my body!!!!! Espcially the parts Gato plays...OMG. . . O M G . . . O M G !
OUT OF WORDS - I THINK NOT WANTING TO SAY I WROTE A
BREAK-UP POEM TO MY EX WITH THIS EUROPA TRACK AND
IT CAME OUT BETTER THAN MY RELATIONSHIP .
IJS...
RICH @ RRSTUARTWIFI @ G M A I L . C O M
SAX LOVERS , I SAW GATO AT THE GUSMAN CULTURAL CENTER
IN MIAMI AN OLD-SCHOOL THEATRE WITH 45 DEGREE SEATING
AND CURTAINS UP TO THE STARS AND NO - I WAS SOBER AND HE WAS FANTASTIC - ONE MUSICIAN AND A PACKED HOUSE FULL
OF LOVE. I AM WATCHING A VINTAGE MOVIE NAMED LAST
TANGO IN PARIS AND HE WAS FEATURED SOUNDTRACK ON
THIS BRANDO MOVIE SHOT IN PARIS IN 1972 - SOME TRIVIA FOR
YOU GATO LOVERS AS I AM. EUROPA IS MY FAVORITE AND
DEEP-TOUCHIN G TRACK . OUT OF WORDS....
RICH
ptrandal
Saw him years ago at a jazz club in San Diego. His music moved me so much, I will never forget him. Love you Gato!
Thanx be to Jah for life love &Gato
Love gato last tango makes me cry
ptrandal
I saw him perform in person fifteen years ago. He was excellent! I can't believe he is eighty years old.
I like this song by Gato Barbieri Nostalgia
rpvphlee
HE'S MY FAVORITO, I love the videos and special the scene that he inspired me,I'm listen at home,in class, every day,I LOVE HIM,SO MUCH.
El Gato is doing just fine,he lives in Manhattan and still plays live,i have seen him play many times at the Blue Note,Village Vanguard,SOB S , h e is a Jazz star, God Bless you Gato !
bought my first album in '76..love, love the rich, lush notes he plays. 36 years later, my sons are asking who he is when they hear him on the all-jazz station. Bravo, Gato...siemp r e
Been listening to Gato for a long time and he just gets better with time! Go Gato, Go!
No one sounds like him; he blows so hard sometimes I just have to get up and 'walk it out'. Masterful!
first heard the cat in the 90s was living in mexico a speaker blasted out his music, I started dancing on the side walk then some girls joined in, the side walk became crowded and it flowed in to the street--I was in my 70s--fun and music never stops
EROTIC !
I am grateful to experience the music at Birchmere, d.c. love isis
Ruby, Ruby Ruby....fabu l o u s !
tanyagilla
In love with Gato.....
His music has so much life to it, makes me always want to get up and dance no matter where I may be...... : )
Gato is awesome!! Europa is exceptional!
IF U LIKE THE GATO U WILL LUV HERB ALBERT ( ROTATION)
this is the right stuff for that special moment.
Love Gato. Heard Que Paso on my way to work and it was love at first sound.
gibberzzl
I fell in Love with his Europa, have been a fan ever since!
vic.torres.v t
No one sounds like Gato! He's unique! Love it!
Richard Romero. I bought his first album back in the 70's. and it still sounds great!!!
Have enjoyed Gato since the mid 70's and still love his playing!!!
got'to Gato...
Loving this
sweet & smooth...... . . . . . . . . .
lawatdoug
I have been a Gato fan forever his music sounds better now than it ever did
xhdolady
Europa!! what a gift to the jazz world.
hooperl1
true jazz
solarin8
im a big fan awesome saxophonist; e u r o p a simply one of his best work;will love to see him live.
yanagraphics
The under-acclai m e d Gods and Astronauts is my all-time favorite Gato album -- Pandora, play some cuts from this one please.
You are right. He does have his own Sound. No dout.
God Bless you Gato, Where ever you are.....
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