Mystical yet fiery, passionately romantic yet supremely cool…You hear those first few notes from that instantly recognizable tenor and know you’re in the unique musical world of Gato Barbieri.
Beginning professionally as a teenager playing alto sax in Buenos Aires clubs, Barbieri’s enduring career has covered virtually the entire jazz landscape, from free jazz (with trumpeter Don Cherry in the mid-60s) and avante garde to film scoring and his ultimate embrace of Latin music throughout the 70s and 80s.
He began playing tenor with his own band in the late 50s and moved to Rome with his Italian born first wife Michelle in 1962, where he began collaborating with Cherry. The two recorded two albums for Blue Note, “Complete Communion.” and “Symphony for Improvisers,” which are considered classics of free group improvisations. Barbieri launched his career as a leader with the Latin flavored “The Third World,” in 1969, and later parlayed his Grammy winning “Last Tango In Paris” success into a career as a film composer, scoring a dozen international films over the years in Europe, South America and the United States.
From 1976 through 1979, Barbieri released four popular albums on A&M Records, the label owned by trumpet great Herb Alpert. “The Shadow of the Cat,” is a reunion of sorts for the two, with Alpert playing trumpet and trumpet solos on three songs.