I overslept a bit thanks to some cannabis-infused ghee butter, but I am marginally awake enough now to post this birthday tribute to an absolute Jazz legend!
I have said it 100,000,000 times, but you can really tell the Hall Of Fame-type players from how many notes of theirs it takes to name them. Today's honoree is one of those that there's probably 3-year-old children that could recognize his tone and sound, both of which are almost entirely unique to him and which he has been utilizing on his Jazz journey for, oh, just the last 50 years.
Possibly the greatest living Latin Jazz veteran on the planet, Gato Barbieri came from the heart of Argentina in the mid-1960s and immediately began to straddle the line between the explosive free playing then prevalent and the deeply passionate, romantic tone and timbre for which he would become known. Not too many players who are known for smoother sounds today came out of the Free Jazz firmament, but this is one.
Just as much a teacher as a musician, perhaps Gato's biggest contribution has been Latin America, his series of albums exploring the folkloric roots of Latin Jazz that he inaugurated on the venerated Impulse! label at the dawn of the 1970s. The four installments of that cycle are surely among the most blazing examples of the genre ever created. The fourth one, a live record recorded at The Bottom Line in New York City and the rarest of the bunch, is as deadly a scorcher as you'll find from that decade.
And he is still doing it at the age of (wow) 81. Or is it 83? There's some dispute as to the exact year, but so what? One of the saxophone heroes I have never had the pleasure of seeing in concert (that has to change soon), the guy is still out there playing and doing his thing. Not many Jazz musicians even live into their eighties, much less play, but Gato shows no signs of stopping and that is one reason to get out of bed in the morning.
To commemorate the man's 81st (83rd?) today, I have decided to share my personal Gato Barbieri tape, culled from his most iconic early-70s output. Well, sort of anyway. See, I used to have a cassette way back when that was 90 minutes of him, but good luck figuring out what songs were on it as it's been lost, along with my tape deck, to history. So yesterday I raided the archives and reassembled it, or something close to it, from more modern sources. You should have seen me trying to hook up the Victrola to the laptop.
01 Introduction to The Third World
02 Nunca Mas
03 El Sublime
04 A John Coltrane Blues
07 Gato Gato
08 Viva Emiliano Zapata
09 Latino America I
10 Haleo and the Wild Rose
11 El Gato
01 Milonga Triste
02 Tupac Amaru
03 Yo Le Canto a la Luna
04 Latino America II
06 El Sertao
07 La China Leoncia pts. 2 & 3
09 Last Tango In Paris (Jazz Waltz)
10 Vidala Triste
Total time: 2:38:19
compilation assembled by EN from Gato's Flying Dutchman and Impulse! catalogs
1 GB FLAC/November 2015 archive link
I am listening back to this now and what a burner it is. I always thought Gato sounded a little like Pharoah Sanders and a little like Albert Ayler, but with a totally unique spin all his own and like I said recognizable by one eighth note from the man's horn. Anyway enjoy my little reconstructed mix here -- and a very happy birthday, and many more, to El Maestro Gato Barbieri -- and I shall return in December with yet more fluff for your filters :D--J.