RIP Gato Barbieri. Who, I hear some of you say. Well you may not have heard his name but if you've seen Last Tango In Paris you've heard his distinctive sax sound in a format that belies much of his music, or at least his great stuff. Gato's special for me because of what he did before Last Tango and most of the lounge lizard stuff since could be glossed over if it wasn't for his great playing, even if it is pap. No, I remember Gato, the Argentinian jazz firebrand from the late 60s and early 70s. I picked up his 1968 debut LP "In Search Of The Mystery", back in the mid 70s, largely because I thought the cover was cool, but when I put it on the turntable my ears didn't know what hit them. It's open free and thoroughly UGLY at first listen, like a lot of radical new music I'm told. I hadn't headed into Jazz's open sea prior to Gato and it took me a while to appreciate it but I now love its energy and raw emotionalism - and the music that lies beyond traditional structures. It literally changed the way I approached music as a listener. Gato stopped playing free post Tango, as far as I know, which helped his bank balance but diminished his status in my op. I wonder if they'll bury or burn him in his trademark black fedora.
The back cover of my copy of Gato's first LP. Note that the liner notes include information in Esperanto no less.
The first half of side one.
The more accessible and well known Last Tango piece. The mythology has it that the sax playing is meant to represent the denial of sexual relief. Good playing but give me free Gato any day.