Born: May 1 Primary Instrument: Vocal
Antonio Barbagallo is a jazz vocalist, guitar player, and composer from Catania, Italy.Arriving on US shores, Barbagallo studied with Barry Harris, one of the few living icons of Be-bop. As luck would have it, he was selected to play guitar in the European School for Jazz Conductors and Instrumentalists' orchestra directed by Gunther Schuller. Based in Palermo, this was the pioneer school for jazz conducting in Europe, if not in the world. French horn player/composer/arranger/conductor and foremost jazz expert Schuller is a legend in jazz history, particularly for his contribution to the experimental third stream movement, a midpoint between jazz and classical music. Not one to pass up such an extraordinary opportunity, Antonio returned to his native country for 3 years. Following this great experience with Maestro Schuller, Barbagallo relocated once again to New York polished and ready to face his future.
Antonio Barbagallo's debut, “Colemania” (Ollio, 2004), is a tribute to his greatest inspiration: saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman. The CD features a mix of original compositions with lyrics written by his friend and collaborator, Gaetano Messina, as well as a combination of modern jazz standards and Brazilian jazz. Following its release, Barbagallo worked with the compatriot Grammy-nominated trumpeter Fabio Morgera on his 2006 Need For Peace (Small) providing vocals on two of the CD's original songs. In late 2009 came the opportunity for Barbagallo to compose music for the Lee Barton-directed film, “A Debt in the Life,” starring French beauty Floanne Ankah currently making the festival circuit.
That year ushered in a new quartet with Craig Hartley on piano, Chris Brown on drums, and bassist Ugonna Okegwo, giving birth to Splendida Luce, Antonio's brand new CD. Released by Koine Italy, the Dodicilune imprint which showcases outstanding classical jazz & crossover singers, this newest work boasts special guests Fabio Morgera and rising star saxophonist Stacy Dillard. “Splendida Luce” has quickly become a press favorite and Antonio is performing live in support of the CD with various special guests.
The record Splendida Luce highlights perfectly the three equally important aspects that characterize the music of Antonio Barbagallo: the author, singer, and the guitarist. The voice presents some harmonic qualities that beautifully melds with the sound context of the band, becoming like an instrument among the instruments. Impressive rhythm and solo guitar parts match high standards of both beauty and melodicism. -- Jazz It
Splendida Luce shows that Barbagallo has a significant artistic versatility as well as a good sensibility that characterize his work as a high level product. What is most surprising is his ability to write meaningful lyrics as well as open, intelligent and refreshing arrangements, adapting his extremely unique voice's qualities to the pentagramma and conducting them to converge toward a unique flow.
Barbagallo's spoken and irregular attacks, and the use of unusual intervals bring us back to the golden era of jazz singing of Armstrong and Sinatra, but Barbagallo's stylistic exploration reaches far beyond the more open harmonic fields and the forms of the contemporary jazz style. The modern Brazilian jazz standard, Vera Cruz, features Barbagallo's dynamic rhythmic approach with his beautiful guitar solo.
The result is a highly sophisticated and tasteful CD with a sensitive expression in which heterogeneous musical languages converge in a natural way.
The elegant texture of the record as well as Barbagallo's wide range of melodic approaches transforms this work into a vehicle that has the power to reach out to a larger audience than just the restricted niche of jazz fans. -- 4Arts
Antonio Barbagallo lives and works in New York and has been developing a variety of style combinations that qualify his artistry with a highly intellectual connotation. The unmistakable character of this artist is manifested in the particular way he uses his voice that designs spirals of colors at times relaxed, but always balanced and coherent in his eclectic style. His Italian style is well represented by Barbagallo's playful voice effects, the harmonic modulations of his compositions, and the ability to research really unusual intervals and results, in the end, in an extremely original sound and almost chamber style when his Italian cantato and the New York jazz idiom are integrated. Barbagallo's activity as songwriter must be taken under consideration also as well as the great contribution to the work by Gaetano Messina. Finally, Barbagallo 's efforts in this valuable work show us the complete ultimate range of his wide and multifaceted artistry. -- Sound Contest
Barbagallo's repertoire represents a tribute to some of the American continent's musical tradition and atmospheres, from Brazilian and Caribbean contemporary music, to the classic modern jazz standards. Barbagallo's interpretation of the modern jazz Mingusian songs Duke Ellington's Sound of Loveand Portrait, as well as his bossa nova repertoire, beside his original compositions yield very passionate results. In the album's diversity Barbagallo allows his voice to take the lead while his guitar represents that extra touch that defines his musical portrait tout court. -- L'Isola
This CD, a contemporary mix of brass, vocals, guitar, piano, bass, and drums, has a refreshing, original quality, brisk tones that vary from track to track, while Barbagallo adds his nimble guitar improvisations and vivacious vocals as well. -- Roberta on the Arts
Barbagallo's vocal sound on his new record Splendida Luce appears to be perfectly integrated with the rest of the band and he is able to explore in the cracks of his very often-angular repertoire. A.B. definitely shows to have very well assimilated the lessons of the great interpreters of the African-American tradition. Excellent is his choice and the contribution of the band members to the success of this record. -- Jazz.net
Tracks: Canzone del Musico Colto; Vera Cruz; Duke Ellington's Sound of Love; Havana's Short Story; Si fa Sera; Splendida Luce; Portrait; Comecar de Nono; Gloria's Step; Monk-ette; Lonely People; Searching for Freedom.
Personnel: Antonio Barbagallo: vocals, guitar
Craig Hartley: piano
Ugonna Okegwo: bass
Chris Brown: drums
Fabio Morgera: trumpet
Stacy Dillard: tenor sax
Tracks: Femina Loca; Angeli Pigri; Colemania; One Note Samba; Donna Lee; Very Early; Blues Connotation; Rakham; St. Matthew
Personnel: Antonio Barbagallo: vocals, guitar
BeeBee Chihiro Yamanaka: piano
Yoshi Waki: bass
Bill Campbell: drums As A Side Musician
Need for Peace
Tracks: Ti Fidi; Si fa Sera.
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