Good Music We Can Know

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fire Music in the Shadow of the Moon: Gato Barbieri- Under Fire (1971)

"Gato's great strength lies in the huge, wild high tone he coaxes from the tenor instrument and in his novel mingling of South American concurring rhythms and melodic traditions with the searing energetics opioneered by Coltrane, Coleman and Albert Ayler.  The great appeal of his music is the apotehosis of heartbreakingly gorgeous melodic lines... into churning imploding kegs of rhythm and the soaring expression of feeling via the tenor saxophone." - Stephen Davis, quoted in the liner notes for Under Fire

"...I sing sometimes, not because I like to sing but because the music needs singing.  And when I scream with my horn, it's because the music needs screaming."- Gato Barbieri

I have talked before about Gato Barbieri's sweet spot, between the 60's spent sessioning (usually exquisitely) for the likes of Lalo Schifrin and Don Cherry and his eventual late-70's latin-lover endgame into bombastic mediocrity.  This is Barbieri in that sweet spot, his classic early/mid-70's prime as bandleader, blending spiritual and passionate modal jazz with experiments into Latin folk tradition and cinematic romanticism.  Under Fire finds him blowing his trademark pink-hot, sweaty fire-music sound with Lonnie Liston Smith at his side making cool breezes on piano and Airto Moreira on percussion (Moreira being most famous for his work on Bitches Brew-- further proof of his genius in this thrilling video).   

This record is very much in line with others of the time, especially those I've shared here (Latin America Chapter One and Bolivia certainly come to mind, particularly the latter).  Evocative and smoldering, with deep grooves; studious use of South American popular music elements, in this case with a soft focus on Brazil; experimental and restless without getting too far out into free-blowing brain-splitting material (which might be said of the same year's howling Fenix, which gets pretty bonkers, admittedly to considerable rewards).  This LP stands with the best of Barbieri's work in terms of quality and consistently sublime mood, even if it doesn't have a track as transcendent as Bolivia's "Bolivia" or the majority of Latin America-- or the stunningly unique vitality of either of those records, honestly.  Still, it's basically a minor masterpiece, a slow-creeping and near-perfect set.


Sorry I was away so long.  I'm back now, and I've got some things lined up that I hope will be just right for the summer that is here now, including the newest Jungle Shadows mix, if anyone's interested.  I guess I oughtta shine up Dub Hot Dubs 3 too, as it's gettin' hot out there, my god.  Anyway, please do stick around.


Holly said...

Love this lp, Flash - wonderful Saturday afternoon listening!

gnwgee said...

Thnaks! Can't wait for the new summer jamz!

Alexis said...

Thanks for taking the trouble to add this, and numerous other wonderful posts. Vastly appreciated - and you've got some excellent images on this site as well.

Flash Strap said...

Kind of you to say!

Anonymous said...

Great to see that you're back! Thanks for your continued interest and hard work.

apf said...

Thank you!