Sunday, May 07, 2006

Gato Barbieri - Alive In New York

Chapter 4: Alive In New York
impulse! ASD 9303

Recorded 1975

Side One

1. Milonga Triste
2. La China Leoncia

Side Two

1. Baihia
2. Lluvia Azul


GATO BARBIERI; tenor sax, guiro, voice
HOWARD JOHNSON; tuba, bass clarinet, flugelhorn, tambourine
EDDIE MARTINEZ; piano, fender rhodes
RAY ARMANDO; percussion, conga

Argentinian tenor Gato Barbieri came to prominence in the avant-garde jazz scene of the mid to late 1960s, playing with the likes of Don Cherry and Charlie Haden. He got funkier in the early 70s, playing with the likes of Lonnie Liston Smith while developing a heavy latin influence, best seen on his four impulse! recordings of the early 1970s. The music on these records (titled Chapters 1-4, indicating something of a stylistic unity) has been described as that of a latin Pharoah Sanders. While that may be true of the earlier records in the series, this 1975 recording finds Barbieri in less fiery mode, leaning towards the commercially oriented pop-jazz sound he would cultivate later in the decade. Thankfully it retains enough interest for the avant-garde listener.

The style of these four pieces is similar. Opening with a contemplative Barbieri, 'Milonga Triste' is as beautiful (thanks to Howard Johnson's bass clarinet backing) as it is rhythmically satisfying. 'La China Leoncia' ups the ante by getting progressively funkier throughout it's four sections. This really is the latin centre of the album, with some furious percussive later in the piece. Side two sees a return to lyrical form with 'Baihia', 11 minutes of relaxed tenor playing with the incomparable Johnson back on his usual tuba keeping things moving along. 'Lluvia Azul' keeps things moving on, being more upbeat than it's forebear and closing out the album in great style.

What more is there to say? This is hugely enjoyable music, played well, and is a good compromise between the fire of Barbieri's later work and his later smooth tones. It's certainly convinced me to track down the other 3 chapters of the series, and it should do the same with you too.


Stephen Bess said...

I saw Gato Barbieri a few years ago at Blues Alley. It was an amazing show! Nice blog!

WD45 said...

Great blog, nice choices to review. I shall now be a regular visitor!